Forum: Raise awareness of helplines to stamp out abuse

The recent reports on cases of abuse over multiple years of domestic workers and intellectually disabled adults, as well as cases of sexual abuse of minors by family members, are troubling.

I am grateful that the Ministry of Social and Family Development launched the National Anti-Violence Hotline (1800-777-0000) last month to help fight abuse (24-hour hotline aims to better help victims of family violence, Feb 24).

In its first month of operation, the helpline received about 450 calls. There is also a hotline for foreign domestic workers, which is 1800-339-5505.

The authorities could advertise the hotlines more widely so that anyone in need of help will know what options are available. For example, the numbers could be advertised in various public places as well as in various languages, including those frequently used by domestic workers.

Private residences such as condominiums should also be encouraged to put up such posters.

For those who want to call the hotlines but do not have access to their own telephones, and because public phones are now very uncommon, perhaps some public phones could be made available in the neighbourhood, with their locations stated in the posters.

To protect young children who may be confused by the abuse and not know how to independently call the hotline, they could be taught in school, by professionals, about when to seek help.

It was reported that more than 1,000 cases of child abuse were investigated in 2019, with a spike in the number of physical abuse cases (Child abuse cases dipped last year, but more kids physically abused, April 18, 2020).

All of us in the community, from teachers and school counsellors to doctors and neighbours, can play our part to help those in need.

Lam Yin Yin

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