Arrest puts focus on school recruits

Updated: 2013-06-08 01:16

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Parents with children at international schools have attacked their recruitment methods after an American teacher at Shanghai French School was arrested on suspicion of molesting six students.

Police have identified the suspect, who was arrested on Thursday, only by his surname, McMahon.

Ye Qin, whose 8-year-old daughter goes to an international school in Shanghai, said, "Many international schools recruit teachers themselves and don't check if they are suitable for the profession or have criminal records or tendencies." Other parents echoed her views.

She wanted to keep the name of the school anonymous to protect her daughter.

"I paid more than 100,000 yuan ($16,300) for my daughter's tuition for a year, which may not guarantee her a desirable education," she said.

The incident is alleged to have taken place at the French School's campus in Pudong. The school declined to discuss how it recruits teachers or say anything about the case on Friday.

A female student at the school and her parents reported to police on May 12 that she had been molested several times by the 32-year-old English-language teacher since September.

Police accuse the teacher of molesting six students - four girls and two boys aged between 6 and 10. Five of the students are French and the other Italian.

Zhuang Liqiang, a police spokesman, said, "He brought the children alone to the school library or open area saying he was checking their homework and molested them after forcibly taking off their clothes."

School: Tougher punishment pledged by authorities

A 6-year-old American boy from the school told police he had seen the teacher molesting his classmate. The suspect is being held in custody in Shanghai.

The French School is a private institution with 1,600 students ranging in age from 3 to 18 on its two campuses in Pudong and Qingpu districts.

International students are not exclusively enrolled at private schools in China, as some public schools have international divisions.

Shen Hengde, a partner at Beijing law firm Zhong Hao Attorneys at Law, said all these schools should monitor the foreign teachers they recruit to safeguard their pupils.

"I once saw several foreign male teachers telling dirty jokes in front of girl students, to which we should show zero acceptance," Shen said.

Shanghai Municipal Education Commission said on Friday it will not tolerate any violation of minors' legitimate rights, interests and their physical and mental health.

"Anybody, no matter in or out of schools, will be punished if he or she violates the law," the commission said in a statement.

It also said it has urged the French School to cooperate with the police, provide counseling for students and parents, and strengthen the management of its staff members.

But Shen said some foreigners are operating at language schools or even at coffee shops and students' homes. "Some of them may be living or working in China illegally and be of varying quality," he said.

Legal experts said foreigners who commit crimes should be punished in accordance with local laws and deported after serving their sentence, which is universally recognized.

In China, the sentence for child molestation is usually less than five years in prison, but the sentence may be longer if the crime is committed in public or involves a number of abusers.

Neil Robinson, a 46-year-old Briton wanted for allegedly raping a child and distributing indecent images of children in his home country, had been working as a teacher at an international school in Beijing, Xinhua News Agency reported in April. He was detained in the capital on April 26 and police found he had been living in China illegally.

China's top court said on May 29 it will show no mercy to people who sexually molest children.



• May 8: School principal and government employee in Wanning, Hainan province, arrested on charges of molesting six female students at hotels.

• May 23: Teacher in Nanyang, Henan province, detained on suspicion of molesting at least nine female students.

• May 26: Math teacher at Puman Central Primary School in Hunan province held for allegedly molesting several girl students.

• May 27: Teacher detained by police in Shenzhen on suspicion of molesting four second-graders.

• May 29: Primary school teacher executed for raping and molesting seven female students from 2004 to 2011.

• June 6: Teacher and security guard at private Decheng Primary School in Hebei province held on suspicion of molesting four schoolgirls.