Singapore has seen a growing number of child abuse cases in recent years. In 2017, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) investigated 894 cases of child abuse, up from 873 cases in 2016, and 551 the year before.
TODAY reported that Big Love, a programme under voluntary welfare organisation Montfort Care which started in 2013, handled 367 such cases between April 2017 and March 2018, up from 252 during the same period last year, and 177 the year before.
Child abuse is defined as any act by a parent or guardian which would endanger or impair the child’s physical or emotional well-being. It includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect.
To create awareness of child abuse and encourage parent-child bonding, Big Love marked its fifth anniversary with a family carnival at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday (21 October).
The centre, which worked with organisations such as Mendaki and World Vision for the carnival, collected more than 12,000 pledges against abuse and neglect from members of the public.
Speaking at the carnival, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that, while the majority of children in Singapore grow up in loving homes, some are not so fortunate.
“For such children, it takes an entire community, and an extensive network of government agencies, stakeholders and partners to look out for them and protect them,” he added.
Big Love director Serene Tan said that the increase in child abuse cases could be due to a few reasons: More cases being reported amid more news coverage about child abuse, and more professionals being trained to detect it.
MSF is embarking on a research project next year to pin down possible reasons for the rise in abuse cases, and will seek to roll out initiatives in response to its findings.
The ministry investigates child abuse cases to prevent further harm to the child. The Children and Young Persons Act is the legal basis for the protection and intervention by relevant authorities for a child (below the age of 14) or a young person (between 14 to 16 years old) who is abused or neglected.
To report suspected cases of child abuse, please contact the Police Divisional Headquarters, the nearest Neighbourhood Police Post, or the following agencies:
- Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 64450400 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm)
- HEART@Fei Yue: 68199170 (Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm)
- SAFE SPACE: 62660171 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 1pm; 2pm – 6pm)