Read about the shocking case of the Singapore school girl sexually assaulted by a man at a bus stop. How can we protect our children?
It was around 2:30 pm that day, and the 9-year-old girl was at a bus stop at Rivervale Crescent in Sengkang, waiting to go home after school. She was in her school physical education attire. A man approached her, and what followed next continues to torment her.
Singapore school girl sexually assaulted
According to Today, the man proceeded to compliment the girl, saying she was cute. Shockingly, 51-year-old Neo Beng Yeow then proceeded to touch her hair, before forcefully grabbing her and kissing her on the lips.
The poor little girl tried to break free from his grip, but the pervert was just too strong for her. He managed to kiss her again and groped other parts of her body, including her buttocks.
The girl was finally saved from the man’s clutches, thanks to the timely intervention of a woman. Ms Cheryl Wong, who was on the way to Rumbia LRT Station in Punggol, knew something was fishy when Neo had approached her earlier at a bus stop, asking for money, claiming he had lost his wallet.
She continued to observe him from the 2nd floor of the LRT station, which was when his outrageous act came to her notice. She managed to pull the girl away from Neo, and also stopped him from escaping, with the help of another male passer-by. Apparently, when questioned, Neo even had the guts to lie that the victim was his niece.
He was arrested by police on the very same day.
According to The Straits Times, on May 30, Neo was jailed for 15 months for sexually assaulting a young girl. He has however been spared the cane on account of his age.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gail Wong has been quoted by Today as saying, “The attack on the victim occurred in broad daylight in a public place (bus stop) in the middle of the afternoon and was a brazen and outrageous act.”
“This was not a situation where the accused had fleetingly touched the victim but was a persistent attack to outrage the victim’s modesty.”
According to Channel NewsAsia, DPP Wong said that the girl “had her first kiss stolen by a stranger”, and that the middle-aged man “has destroyed for her the innocence of an affectionate kiss given by an adult to a child (and) robbed her of the experience of giving away her first kiss to a loved one”.
“(Neo) treated her like a ragdoll … (she) was absolutely helpless, (and) had no control over what was being done to her.”
Empowering our children against sexual abuse
What is really saddening is that the incident has left the little girl shaken; she is still scared to go home alone after school. Instead, she waits for her mother to pick her up.
Today quotes her as saying, “I am scared of other men I meet outside now. If I go to the playground to play, I don’t dare to go alone. I must go with someone else I know … When I take the bus on my own and other strangers come near me, I will walk away.”
We feel badly for this little girl, whose childhood just got tarnished by the disgusting act of a paedophile. As more and more such cases surface in Singapore, it has become all the more imperative to empower our children against sexual abuse.
How can we teach our little ones to recognise and report sexual abuse and to keep themselves safe? Here are some pointers:
- Recognising sexual abuse: How does the child know that he or she has been abused? Abuse does not always have to be painful. Recognising abuse starts with education. It is important to teach your children about private parts from a young age. Use proper names for each body part.
Explain why only some parts are called ‘private’ and that they are not for anyone else to see, except maybe parents. Explain “good touch” and “bad touch”. No one should be allowed to touch or take pictures of their private parts and they should not touch any one’s private parts as well.
- Teach children the difference between ‘good’ strangers and ‘bad’ strangers: This is the trickiest part. Unfortunately, ‘bad’ people may not ‘look’ evil; nothing like the villains you see in the movies and cartoons. People with bad intentions can pretend to be nice and friendly as well. Also, do advise your kids never to walk off or get into houses with people they don’t know.
Teach your kids about ‘safe’ strangers: These are the people the child can approach for help, in times of crisis. They include policemen and perhaps, mummies with kids?
- No, Go, Yell, Tell method: If a stranger asks your child to go away with them or or if he tries to touch your child inappropriately or if he makes your child feel uncomfortable in any way, teach your child the “No, go, yell, tell” method.
Basically, your child should say NO, go and run away, yell as loud as he can, and tell a trusted adult about what happened.
- Reporting sexual abuse: “Was it my fault? Will I be shamed or punished if I told someone about it?” These are common questions that hound sexual abuse victims. Parents should convince their children that they will never get into trouble for telling them the truth.
The child may be misled to believe by the abuser or any others that he or she was asking for it, was enjoying it etc. But children should understand that anyone who wants them to keep secrets from their parents should not be trusted.