Singapore

Early intervention, community support can help at-risk youth: Minister

Caught in the grip of a tough family situation, a teenage boy started skipping school and mixing with the wrong crowd.

His father, who had been in and out of prison for drug offences, was having an affair. His mother had lost her job and often returned home late after a night of drinking.

Bereft of parental guidance, he easily found himself on the wrong path.

This was a case study brought up by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee yesterday, when he explained the need for early intervention and support for youth at risk.

He said: "We need to understand what puts youth at risk, and address these issues as early as possible. For example, through preventative outreach, education, and intervention. It also means giving our children a good start in life."

Mr Lee was speaking at a symposium discussing the early prevention of youth offending.

Organised by the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism (NCPR), the Conversations On Youth symposium brought together 650 stakeholders for a dialogue.

They included school leaders, social workers and law enforcement officers.

Mr Lee, who is also an NCPR co-chairman, pointed out that early intervention could help youth at risk turn their lives around.

He told the gathering that the number of young people arrested had declined, from about 3,100 in 2014 to about 2,700 last year.

Mr Lee said all stakeholders would need to work together to strengthen support for young people.

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