When parents call the cops on their kids
He thought his mother and grandmother blamed him for his father's death, and it made 12-year-old Kevin snap.
His father had just died from stomach cancer, and Kevin believed his family thought it was his video gaming addiction and truancy that had "worried (his father) to death".
One day, a furious Kevin picked up a kitchen knife and pointed it at his mother, threatening to kill her.
He had enough of the "accusations".
The hour-long stand-off ended when his mother Lily sought help from the police and social services.
Their real names and ages are withheld to protect their identities as Kevin is a minor.
This was one of the worst youth-related cases that Ms Joy Lim, assistant director of Youth Service Centre (Toa Payoh), run by Singapore Children's Society, has encountered.
While cases of juvenile delinquency are common, it is not often that parents are forced to call the cops on their children.
Says Ms Lim: "It is a dilemma for parents with these kids. It is a difficult decision for them initially, but they come to realise that they have run out of options to control their children.
"Either they condone their behaviour and the children turn out to be bad people, or they decide to grapple with the root of the problem and get help from the authorities."
Known as a Beyond Parental Control (BPC) order, it is meant for children below 16 years of age who display behavioural problems at school or at home.
Desperate parents can file a BPC complaint against their child at the Juvenile Court as a last resort.
Last year, there were 66 BPC cases: 40 involved girls and 26 involved boys.
These can be cases of truancy, runaways, underage sex and, in rare cases, violence against the family, says Ms Lim, who has 13 years' experience in social work.
In Kevin's case, he was deemed to be beyond control and was placed in a boys' home under a statutory supervision order for two years.
This meant that he had to report to a supervision officer and was required to attend counselling and other programmes.
"During counselling, there was a lot of digging up of old wounds and sorting out the misunderstandings," says Ms Lim.
"(Kevin) learnt that his mother was distraught and bereaved, and (Lily) needed to know that her son used video games as a form of escape."
Even Kevin's grandmother realised that the words she had used were interpreted as accusations by Kevin.
Today, Kevin and Lily have put aside their differences and repaired their mother-son relationship.
"He actually told me that it was a huge relief for him, as counselling unearthed the root of the problem and allowed them to solve it together."
In January, Lianhe Wanbao ran a report on a mother who dragged her daughter, in her early 20s, to the police station to turn her in.
The mother had seen closed circuit television pictures of her daughter, which had been put up by the police, claiming that she is involved in loan shark harassment.
But what leads a parent to do so?
Psychiatrist Lim Boon Leng believes it happens when "parents can no longer implement any form of discipline to control their children's severe conduct disorders".
Says Dr Lim: "It is a good thing to seek help early on. Through time, the child will come to understand that it is for his own good."
Each month, his private clinic receives about three cases of parents seeking counselling services.
Rather than let miscommunication and misunderstanding fester, counselling can help bring parent and child together through combined activities and programmes.
But both parent and child have to participate.
Says Dr Lim: "When the child has conduct disorders, it cannot just be the child's problem."
However, parents have to be aware that filing a BPC complaint against their child can lead to an undesirable record in their files, says Ms Lim.
"It isn't a criminal record but if they are institutionalised in a home, there will be a record nonetheless."
Another qualm that desperate parents might face is that an arrest warrant may be issued against their child if the child fails to turn up for the court session after the complaint is filed.
Says Ms Lim: "An arrest warrant is a criminal record. The child can be so out of control that he or she just refuses to turn up."
Dr Lim also cautions that children could be "contaminated" by other BPC children if they are institutionalised.
"It is known that delinquents tend to hang out with other delinquents, and (the child) might end up picking up other bad behaviour. Hence, BPC should be considered as a temporary milieu for therapy to happen," he says.
The good news is that the number of BPC cases has been falling over the years, from 121 in 2008 to 66 last year.
Both Dr Lim and Ms Lim believe this can be attributed to the increasing number of pre-court programmes that prevent children from being labelled as BPC.
Two options exist: Parties can undergo four to eight sessions of pre-complaint counselling, or they can enrol in the six-month-long BeaconWorks programme.
This programme, according to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, "works on improving strained parent-child relationships".
If the child has committed a minor offence but is not charged, he or she can be placed in a six-month rehabilitative programme to help him or her stay away from crime.
Ms Lim adds: "It helps that there are other upstream initiatives from schools and family service centres that intervene before it reaches the BPC stage.
"A parent who files a complaint against his or her child can destroy that relationship forever. That is why BPC has to be the last resort."
Do you know, he actually scored an aggregate of 240 for his PSLE? My son went to a good school, but somehow, when he was in Secondary 2, something just went wrong.
— Madam Chua Kee Ching