SINGAPORE - "If I report, will our family break up?". "Should I tell someone about my private matter?"
These questions race through Bob's head as he watches another round of threats and physical abuse his father unleashes on his mother.
His story is told in a new educational pictorial book to encourage children to speak up about family violence. It was produced by family violence specialist group, the Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (Pave), and the police from the Ang Mo Kio Police Division. The two collaborators, together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Social and Family Development, launched the book on Monday (Feb 17).
The comic book A Day With Bob tells the tale of a young boy named Bob who regularly witnesses his father beating up his mother. Replete with stickers and lift-the-flap pages, the book is designed in an interactive manner for children.
Through Bob's story, readers learn of the consequences of doing nothing or of seeking help.
Around 25,000 copies of the book will be distributed to all pupils in primary schools in the north.
Pave and the police are working with MOE to distribute the book to all primary school students in Singapore.
A police spokesman said children at this age are particularly vulnerable as they may not be able to recognise abusive behaviour as forms of family violence, and it is important to reach out to them in a relatable manner.
"The book helps young children understand that family violence is not a private matter, and to identify tell-tale signs of family violence. It also educates them on the avenues for help, and encourages them to seek help early if they become a victim."
This is the first time that a book on family violence has been created for children.
Pave founder Sudha Nair said the impact of violence on children is well documented. If children are not taught ways to seek help, these issues will go on unresolved.
Research has shown that family violence continues through the generation. Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, said at the launch at the Pave office in Ang Mo Kio: "There is a vicious inter-generational circle of family violence: children who witness their fathers hitting their mothers are 10 times more likely to abuse their future spouses."
She also spoke of current government efforts to tackle family violence. These include providing victims legal recourse and social support services, raising public awareness and fostering greater collaboration and coordination among government agencies and community partners to help the victims.
"Each case is one too many. No one should fear going home," she said.