Urgent Action Needed: End Period Spot Checks, Protect Adolescent Girls and Safeguard Mental Health
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
Thrive Well is a community mental health centre dedicated to improving emotional well being and quality of life for Malaysian children, youth and families. As a mental health organization committed to reducing childhood adversities and upholding trauma informed care, we are highly appalled and alarmed
by recent news reports of “period spot checks” conducted on female students in multiple schools.
We condemn the abuse, humiliation and trauma inflicted on adolescent girls who were forced to show their blood-soaked sanitary pads, undergo vaginal swabs with cotton buds, tissues or fingers, and experience inappropriate bodily touch by school teachers and wardens looking for “evidence” of menstruation. These degrading acts have been purportedly a longstanding practice with prolonged mental health risks, according to testimonies by current and former female students.
We would like to unequivocally state period spot checks are tantamount to sexual abuse, harassment and bullying. These exploitative acts may cause immense humiliation, shame and vulnerability amongst adolescent girls, which in turn poses long-term risks of emotional distress, trauma and depression. Such practices underscore a prevalent disregard for children’s dignity that may undermine their academic,
emotional and social development, while turning schools from safe spaces to unsafe spaces for students.
SOLS Health-Thrive Well Managing Director and Clinical Psychologist Ellisha Othman said: “Period spot checks are serious violations of children’s bodies, privacy and safety. These traumatic experiences may negatively affect their mental health, confidence and self-worth. We hope teachers will foster safe spaces for the socioemotional growth of children in school - we need healthier strategies to motivate students
instead of coercive actions leaving mental scars on them.”
“We welcome the statement by YB Datuk Seri Rina Harun, Minister of Women, Community and Family Development, to stop period spot checks in schools. The government must take stern action against those violating children’s bodies in all educational institutions. Parents must also play a vigilant role by teaching children about inappropriate touch, offering emotional support and reporting violations to government authorities,” Othman said.
Othman added: “We need collective action to safeguard the mental health of current and future generations of children. The community must come together in creating safe spaces for the healthy emotional development of adolescent girls in schools by upholding their dignity and respect, instead of coercion and abuse. Teachers and parents need to rethink how we can influence children more positively with better
communication and empathy.”
Director of Research & Advocacy Dr Arman I Rashid (019 4343881)
Manager of Research & Advocacy Su Lin Lim (012 2078206)
Authorized by Thrive Well Research Advocacy.