PETALING JAYA: Students will learn about statutory rape from the perspective of law when it is included in school syllabus in 2021.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said this was to enable students to learn about relevant legal issues on the subject, including sexual consent.
Teo said the syllabus would be taught to Year 6 and Form 5 students, with content suitable to respective ages for Pendidikan Jasmani under the Reproductive and Social Health Education (PEERS) topic.
“Many students who are entering either Year 6 or Form 5 begin to experience ‘puppy love’, so it is important for them to learn about statutory rape and how consensual sex will even be considered as a crime when it involves girls under 16 years old," said Teo.
“We need to teach them, as we cannot presume that they know the law."
Teo said the syllabus would also empower the students to learn about their rights.
“They will learn that they can’t let people touch their bodies. At the same time, they will learn it is not okay to touch other people’s bodies,” she told the press at the “Love Your Body” book launch at the Scholastic Reading Lounge in Sunway Pyramid today, organised by Scholastic Asia and the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
Teo said the increasing number of rape crimes involving minor was among the factors behind the introduction of the syllabus so that youths can be more aware on matters such as sexual consent, harassment and child grooming.
Police statistics in 2017 showed that there were 1,163 rape victims below the age of 18 and 94 for those under 12-years-old.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Nor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the move would educate students and address relevant issues such as body shaming, effects of anorexia, consequences of self-harm.
“Growing up as teenagers is challenging especially for girls who may be sensitive over their physical appearance. They may also be a target for sexual harassment or worse, domestic abuse.
Azimah said the syllabus could best be slotted under sexual education.
“Such a sensitive subject must be broached with great care. If teachers are to teach this topic, they must be properly trained,” she said when contacted.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock recommended that the topic be carried out in the form of discussions between the students, especially in secondary schools, and not merely taught by the teachers.
“Love Your Body” is written by Australian author Jessica Sanders with the aim to encourage young girls to be more comfortable with their bodies.
It will be available for purchase on Shopee starting next month, and every RM2 from the purchase will be donated by Scholastic Asia to WAO.