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Thevesh @Thevesh
, 13 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Today, I found out that some young people I know (ages 15 and 16) are in 'school' Whatsapp groups with teachers.

I salute the dedication of teachers who go beyond, but I think this a very dangerous breach of privacy / work-play balance, and must be stopped.

Here's why: #Thread
1) You cannot join a Whatsapp group without revealing your phone number. This is an immediate risk for minors - the room for abuse is so large I'm stunned that schools allow this. Pedophilia, sexual predation, grooming - all possible when adults have kids' phone numbers.
2) There is also risk of harassment by other kids. I remember my friends in high school (esp girls) who kept phone numbers very private, because they didn't want to be constantly bombarded.

When a teacher makes you join, there's no opt out. Everyone gets your phone number.
3) Don't get me started on the dangers of personal information being shared and abused. Children often don't know better. Who is overseeing this? And don't tell me teachers are all noble - I witnessed multiple teachers groom/harass my friends (didn't realise at the time).
4) Some schools even have 'year-wide' Whatsapp groups, which 200 kids/teachers for that year-group join. How on earth can identity be verified? It's so easy to craft a virtual mask. An adult could easily pretend to be a fellow student and begin a personal chat with a child.
5) I want to add a bit more about grooming. 24/7 personal communication between kids and teachers is NOT good. This is literally one of the easiest ways I can think of for a predatory adult to groom unsuspecting victims, or emotionally abuse them.
6) Whatsapp chats are additionally coercive because you *cannot* turn off the 'Read By' feature in groups. Impossible.

Teachers are using this as a tool to check who has seen their instruction to do some extra work they didn't think of in class. True story (seriously).
7) On that note, I think at some point, we need to draw the line and say school-time is school-time, and nothing beyond.

Kids are generally under enough pressure as it is. I think it's unhealthy for them to have to respond 24/7 in a medium with **instant** communication.
8) Can we regulate Whatsapp chats? No. Mandating parents' presence in the chat or having multiple independent teachers does not deal with the truckload of privacy/data protection/child protection concerns.
9) This is literally why G-Suite for Education exists - a separate email not linked to other personal data, plus a Google Classroom where a teacher can post information/updates, without the dangers of having kids+teachers connected via instant chat.
I think this is something which needs urgent regulation. Just google the horror cases of kids abused - sexually, physically, mentally, emotionally - by their teachers through Whatsapp/FB.

Tagging relevant ministers @maszlee @SyedSaddiq @scheekeong @GobindSinghDeo
Proposal:

Ban Whatsapp groups (and the like) where teachers and students are in close personal contact. If you insist on allowing FB groups, groups only, no personal chat. Plus a third party observer in the group.

Too many kids have been hurt and damaged irreversibly.
And before anyone says "You think this will stop sexual predators? Abuse will still happen la!":

No, I'm not claiming it will eradicate it. I am arguing that it sure as hell will minimise the avenues available to such predators and help *reduce* its occurrence.

Better safe.
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