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Safety of schoolgirls

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-30 08:13

A string of recent reports of schoolgirls allegedly being molested, or even raped, by their teachers or school principals exposes the lack of protection for girls in schools.

After reports that a school principal in Wanning, southern Hainan province, and a local property administration employee took six schoolgirls, aged between 11 and 14, to hotel rooms on May 8, fierce public outrage immediately swept across the country.

Although the two men have been arrested after the exposure of the case and local prosecutors have already filed a lawsuit against them on charges of rape, the enormous repercussions of the unbelievable scandal are far from over.

Intensive media reports on similar cases in other parts of the populous country have revealed a worrying picture, and urgent action is needed to safeguard girls so that they do not become easy prey to pedophiles.

A few days ago, a primary school teacher in central Henan province was detained by police on suspicion of molesting several schoolgirls over a number of years. On Sunday, police in Jiahe, in central Hunan Province, held a local primary school math teacher for allegedly molesting several female students. On Monday evening, police in Nanshan district, southern Shenzhen, detained a second-grade teacher at a local primary school on similar charges.

Given the unprecedented public outrage and subsequent media spotlight on the problem, more incidents are likely to be reported in the days to come.

Exaggerating the severity of the problem does no good. Yet the unnerving threads unraveled so far warn us that neither should the scale of it be underestimated.

The frequent occurrence of cases where young girls are sexually harmed in schools has undermined fragile parental trust in those who have been entrusted with the task of teaching their children knowledge and ethics.

Authorities must strengthen their awareness of the need to protect young girls from pedophiles.

The law should also be amended, as at present there are loopholes that enable sexual predators to avoid the charge of rape if they claim not to know the girl was under 14 or if money was paid to the victim.

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