Taipei elementary-school students and their parents were shocked last week after a class was subjected to an extensive search during which the students said they were treated like criminals.
The search occurred on Wednesday last week at Taipei Municipal Tianmu Elementary. Three teachers searched a class, making them empty their pockets, remove their shoes and socks, and take out the contents of their bags.
The search was prompted by the parents of one student, who called school principal Wang Hui-chu (王慧珠) and told them that their son had lost more than NT$5,000 at the school. The parents demanded that the school investigate, but the missing money was not found.
The incident came to light this week when the parent of one of the students who was searched complained to Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄).
“Schools are a place for education, but the teachers behaved more like police officers. This kind of search was excessively harsh,” Chuang said.
“Why are we being treated like criminals?” some of the students asked as they were searched.
Another parent said that her daughter had come home crying and said that she and her classmates had been treated like thieves.
Wang yesterday said that the school’s handling of the incident had been insensitive and had infringed on the students’ rights, adding that school officials had apologized to the class on Saturday.
Chang Wen-hung (張文宏), a principal at another Taipei school and the head of a committee on youth affairs, said that even if a student had lost some money, nobody had the right to demand that other students be searched.
Taiwan is a democracy and it is important that educators abide by the principles of human rights and the rule of law, he said.
“Schools must refuse any demand by parents or students to searches a class,” Chang said.
When a student loses money in a school, the teachers should make sure their class understands what it feels like to lose money and ask for their help in finding it, instead of conducting searches, Chang said.