SINGAPORE - With instances of child abuse on the rise, two guides have been published to help teachers, social workers and other professionals detect potential cases.
The Sector Specific Screening Guide and Child Abuse Reporting Guide were launched by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Tuesday (Nov 27).
The former is for front-line professionals who come in contact with children on a regular basis - such as teachers, doctors and social workers - while the latter is for professionals who are more familiar with child protection issues, such as school counsellors and medical social workers.
Mr Lee said the guides provide a common, consistent framework for assessing child safety concerns, in a speech at a conference held by the National Family Violence Networking System, which enables an integrated management of family-violence cases by involving the police, hospitals, prisons and social-service agencies.
The guides aim to help professionals make clearer decisions on whether a child protection concern needs to be reported to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
Ms Kristine Lam, 28, manager of Care Corner Project StART, one of Singapore's three family violence specialist centres, said: "The guides give clear definitions, categories of situations and thresholds of the situations that would lead professionals to reporting the situations. In the past, when to report a situation was not as clear."
For example, if a child younger than seven is injured by a family member, the guide advises the professionals to consult the state.
“This is an important standard as children under seven may not be in education system, which places them at higher risk of abuse,” said Ms Lam.
The guides, which were piloted in 2015, will now be made available to all agencies working with children.
The number of child abuse cases has gone up over the last decade, with MSF investigating 894 child abuse cases in 2017, up from 272 in 2009.
At the one-day conference held at Singapore Expo, 500 local and overseas experts and practitioners from the judiciary, law enforcement, healthcare, social services, community and academic sectors came together to discuss collaborative approaches to family protection.
Awards were also given out to recognise individuals and teams from agencies that have significantly contributed to managing family violence cases.
Mr Lee told the conference: "For us to tackle these problems more effectively, our prevention efforts for family violence must go upstream."