Corpun file 16747
The New Paper, Singapore, 28 September 2005
Whack - Student defames teacher on top school's online forum
Student gets publicly caned
Schools are coming down hard on students who make defamatory
comments about their teachers on the web. But how tough should
By Liew Hanqing
THINK twice before you bad mouth your teacher online.
You might be in for a nasty surprise.
One student at a top boy's school learnt it the hard way - he
was publicly caned.
The student hacked into a teacher's iLearning account - which
is used to post homework and other information for students - and
made defamatory comments about a teacher on the school's online
The comments made were highly visible as the forum is
accessible by all the school's students and teachers.
Three students and a source from the school confirmed the
public caning. The headmaster of the school could not be reached
for comment this morning.
Even the personal blog is no longer safe.
While a lengthy blog tirade about the nasty teacher who sent
you for detention might be cathartic, your teacher could well be
reading your entry - and getting really angry.
Some teachers have confessed to searching for and reading
their students' blogs regularly.
And they've not hesitated to speak up when they deem the
Several students at the same top school, for instance, were
reprimanded about offensive blog posts about the schools'
Said Jonathan Au Yong, a Secondary 3 student at the school who
knows one of the students involved: 'My friend was asked why he
posted such a hurtful comment. He posted a public apology on his
blog and removed the post.'
One teacher at a secondary school in Jurong who declined to be
named told The New Paper that she often does online searches of
She said: 'I found one of my student's blogs - he commented on
what I wore to class one day. It was pretty offensive, but I
didn't want to make a fuss about it in class.'
She said that the first blog she found through an online
search contained links to other blogs that belonged to students
in a history class she is teaching.
She added: 'I read their blogs quite often just to see what's
going on with them.'
But not all teachers are as restrained.
One Sec 2 student at a top girls' school in the Orchard Road
area said that her teacher told off her class for using foul
language in their blog entries.
According to the student, who declined to be named, the
teacher even left comments on some of her friends' blog tagboards
- message boards allowing visitors to post responses to blog
While students generally agree that there is a need for
responsible writing even though blogs are personal domains, some
feel that teachers should mind their own business.
Said Joy Quek, 15: 'The whole idea of having a blog is being
able to write down my thoughts on what goes on in my life. If the
teachers want to hear only nice things about themselves all the
time, then maybe they shouldn't be prying into our blogs.'
Student Wu Yiling, 16, added: 'I'm not surprised if teachers
are reading my blog - so now when I write about them, I use code
names instead of their full names.
'That way, I can still write what I want to and, at the same
time, be ambiguous enough to avoid getting into trouble.'
Said Vanessa Tan, 15, a Sec 3 student: 'Being students,
teachers are a natural part of what we write about in our blogs.
'Schools should lay down the ground rules on what's acceptable
and what's not, so we don't get taken by surprise.'
Suspended for flaming teachers
CASES of students being punished for flaming teachers are
hardly isolated ones.
Five junior college (JC) students were punished for posting
offensive remarks about two teachers and a vice-principal online.
They were made to remove the remarks from their blogs, and
suspended for three days last month.
Eighteen out of 31 secondary schools and JCs contacted by The
Straits Times said they're seeing more such incidents.
Lawyers say students can be sued for defamation even if a
teacher's not named.
None of the schools contacted has banned blogging. Teachers
encourage it to improve students' writing skills.
The recent cases of youths charged with making inflammatory
remarks online have led to teachers discussing the dos and don'ts
of blogging with students. The MOE said it does not issue
guidelines to schools on blogging, but leaves it to them to take
Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No.
198402868E. All rights reserved.
Follow-up: 1 October 2005 - Boy's caning sends right signals