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It takes a community to keep kids safe from abuse

Dr Lucy Pou Kwee Hoon has raised a valid concern regarding the trauma that children who have been abused often face ("Protecting kids goes beyond moving them to safe environment"; May 1).

We are heartened that there is an increased awareness of the need to go beyond placing a child in a safe environment and addressing the impact of the trauma suffered.

Heart@Fei Yue is a community-based child protection specialist centre set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to manage child-abuse cases at moderate risk levels. For child protection work to be effective, there are three important components.

Control: Safety plans need to be established to ensure safety of the vulnerable child in the family.

Heart@Fei Yue does this by contracting with every family member safety plans and violence control plans, and monitoring that they observe these plans.

Collaboration: No one agency can ensure safety for children. It takes collaborative efforts from various groups in the community, such as social workers from family service centres, teachers and school counsellors, neighbours and extended family members, to work together.

Change: Beyond safety, we need to work with children to help them recover from the trauma of abuse.

At Heart@Fei Yue, we screen for trauma symptoms and provide trauma-focused therapies to help children reduce trauma symptoms and increase their resilience.

We also engage with parents and caregivers to acquire nurturing parenting skills.

Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. It will take the community to keep children safe and help them overcome the trauma of abuse.

Ng Kwai Sim (Ms)

Centre Head

Heart@Fei Yue

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2016, with the headline 'It takes a community to keep kids safe from abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe