Snakes alive! — Dr Zulkifli Ismail

OCTOBER 19 — Social media is currently abuzz about the ‘motivational’ outdoor camp held for school students who were asked to cross a body of water that had snakes put in it.

The outcry and protests from the public, especially parents, show the anger and disdain that the video has evoked. We then heard that the officers who conducted the camp were ‘suspended’, a light sentence for an irresponsible act! Incidentally, the prepared speech by the APM Deputy Director General of Operations had no mention of an apology to the children or their parents.

The Child Protection Act has a section on child endangerment that is depicted in this video and the responsible ministry should take appropriate exemplary steps to prevent any recurrence. The psychological trauma inflicted on these girls may never be erased. The phobia that may have been evoked may lead to lifelong scars. The possible physical injury from trying to climb to safety or being bitten by snakes that size could never have been anticipated.

Who are to be blamed for this? The organisers are obviously at the centre of it all. Being a government agency makes it even worse and shows the level of officers in such agencies. The school principal and teachers who allowed this programme in the first place should be taken to task for not checking the content.

Are we to accept this behaviour to be a ‘rite of passage’ ordeal that our young girls are expected to go through? What school of child and developmental psychology did the organisers follow to conduct this course? There are many questions and there will never be any answers from the authorities, the school nor the organisers. Should we then just sweep this under the proverbial carpet once again after all the dust had settled?

All adults who advocate for children who cannot speak for themselves should take it upon themselves to protest as shown in social media. The responsible authorities should take cognisance of these protests and proceed with further legal, punitive and exemplary action to ensure that these, and other, children are protected. That is after all what they are there for, so please do the right thing for the sake of all children!

Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail

For the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA)

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online

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