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Illuminate Education

Spike in child abuse cases recorded in Singapore in recent years

A spike in cases involving child abuse has been recorded in recent years, with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) observing an increase of 21 cases, from 873 in 2016 to 894 in 2017.

An even more marked increase of 322 was recorded previously, from 551 in 2015 to 873 in 2016.

Big Love, an initiative by welfare body Montfort Care set up in 2013, received 367 of such cases between Apr last year and Mar this year. The recorded figure shows an increase from the recorded 252 cases during the same period in 2017, and 177 in 2016, according to TODAY.

Director Serene Tan posited that the spike might have resulted from more people coming forward to report cases of child abuse, and also the increasing number of professionals who have been equipped with the skills to recognise if a child has been abused.

A research project next year will be launched by MSF in 2019 to investigate possible reasons for the increase in child abuse cases, and, based on its findings, the Ministry will subsequently work on starting initiatives to remedy the roots of child abuse.

The organisation celebrated its fifth anniversary by organising a family carnival at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday (21 Oct) in an effort to promote parent-child bonding and to spread awareness regarding child abuse.

In partnership with Mendaki and World Vision for the carnival, the centre had managed to collect over 12,000 pledges against abuse and neglect, which were signed by members of the public.

Speaking at the carnival, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that for children who come from underprivileged backgrounds, “it takes an entire community, and an extensive network of government agencies, stakeholders and partners to look out for them and protect them.”

Lauding the efforts of social workers and professionals such as the ones at Big Love: “Your work is not easy. You have to engage families and help them to understand why a certain situation can compromise a child's safety. You have to maintain at the same time trust of these families and reassure them that your ultimate goal is to keep their families together.”

"Research has shown that victims of child abuse suffer trauma, do not function well socially, and have a higher likelihood of becoming abusive themselves when in turn they become parents.

"But with your intervention, you reduce the downstream effects of child abuse, and this is how we all seek to break the cycle of abuse," said Mr Lee.

MSF probes into child abuse cases involving a child, categorised as being below the age of 14, or a young person, categorised as being between 14 to 16 years old, under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Just last month, the Penal Code Review Committee has proposed making amendments to the law that will result in harsher sentences against persons perpetrating child abuse.

Members of the public are urged to lodge a report to the Police Divisional Headquarters or the nearest Neighbourhood Police Post should they suspect that child abuse is taking place in a household near them. Alternatively, cases may also be reported to the following bodies: