Crucial to raise alert on child abuse early

Posed photo of an adult scolding a child.
Posed photo of an adult scolding a child.PHOTO: ST FILE

Research shows this helps victim bounce back from ordeal

"Lionel" was not allowed to shower or use the electrical appliances in the house when he disobeyed his mother. Sometimes, he would be locked out of the house overnight or he would not be given an allowance for food.

Their strained relationship, coupled with the psychological abuse and neglect, caused him to be withdrawn and depressed in school.

Fortunately, his school teachers noticed his behaviour and alerted social workers, who stepped in to provide support. Now, mother and son have learnt to communicate better with each other.

Flagging child abuse and neglect cases early are crucial in helping victims bounce back from their ordeal, according to research results released yesterday by child protection specialist centre Heart @ Fei Yue. Using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (Cans) assessment tool, it found that 44 per cent of the 137 children in the study had immediate family relationship problems, but this dipped to 7 per cent after intervention.

Similarly, the 15 per cent who had severe attachment problems, meaning they have difficulties forming trusting relationships, was reduced to about 4 per cent, and the 12 per cent with immediate social relationship concerns dropped to 3 per cent.

Cans is an internationally recognised document that helps social workers decide what sort of counselling or care programme is needed for children and teenagers.

The results were released at the Protect A Child Today carnival held at Lot One Shoppers' Mall. A campaign to raise awareness on child protection issues and family violence was also launched yesterday.

MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad, who was at the event, called the move "timely and much needed", in the light of the sharp rise in the number of child abuse cases last year.

Some 551 cases were recorded, compared with a total of 1,935 cases between 2005 and 2014, according to Ministry of Social and Family Development data.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Crucial to raise alert on child abuse early'. Print Edition | Subscribe