Promote healthy family units to break cycle of offending

There are many parts to the story of intergenerational offending, from dysfunctional families to harsh punishment policies and uncoordinated efforts by government and volunteer agencies ("Her mother, aunt, grandparents are ex-cons. Can Aisyah break the cycle?"; Dec 18).

Children end up becoming victims to their parents' poor behaviour.

Knowing how we got to this point is important in understanding how we can navigate, going forward.

One factor is the inability on the part of families, society and communities to promote healthy family values that, in turn, generate healthy family units.

We are aware that a child who grows up in a dysfunctional family or one with poor values will probably propagate the same destructive values as an adult.

Are we doing enough to stem this decline in family health in our society?

A child who grows up in a dysfunctional family or one with poor values will probably propagate the same destructive values as an adult.

The most effective way to promote healthy families is to ensure that couples are emotionally, psychologically, behaviourally and financially ready to set up families.

This can be done by helping couples get jobs that will offer work-life balance and financial security.

They also need to understand effective parenting styles.

It is necessary to ensure that a couple's relationship remains healthy, even if one partner has to be incarcerated.

This will give rise to better parent-child relationships.

Foster parents should be the secondary support structure, and not the primary one.

We need to get together as a society and a nation to study this problem and come up with more effective intervention strategies.

Perhaps a dedicated National Conversation can be held to look into the health of the Singapore family unit.

The current psychosocial and socio-economic situation is not getting any better.

Unless we study the problem at the national level, we could generate more Aisyahs in the future.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Promote healthy family units to break cycle of offending'. Print Edition | Subscribe