Guides launched to help professionals spot, report child abuse
They will be rolled out at all agencies that work with children
After learning a seven-year-old boy had been caned by his father with a bamboo pole, the boy's school counsellor knew something was not right.
Thinking it could have been a one-off incident, she was not sure if she had to get the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Child Protection Service (CPS) involved or to manage it on her own.
It was after consulting with Ms Sarah Pennefather, 27, a social worker with child protection specialist centre Heart@Fei Yue and going through the case using the Child Abuse Reporting Guide (Carg), that the counsellor felt validated in deciding to make a report to MSF.
The guide was officially launched yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee at this year's National Family Violence Networking System conference, along with the Sector Specific Screening Guide (SSSG)
Both are part of an evidence-based system developed in the US to help make decisions on child protection issues and were adapted for use in Singapore.
The SSSG is meant for front-line professionals who come in contact with children on a regular basis, like teachers, doctors and social workers, while the Carg is for professionals who are more familiar with child protection, such as school counsellors and medical social workers.
Implemented since 2015 at selected schools, hospitals and social service organisations, the guides will now be rolled out across all agencies that work with children.
MSF has implemented the guides in phases since 2015 and did a review of them last year.
Recounting her experience with the counsellor, Ms Pennefather said that because the boy had been hit all over his body and even though the caning did not happen frequently, the Carg helped them identify that this was a high-risk case which needed intervention from the CPS.
Ms Pennefather said: "Everything is very concrete, very observable behaviours."
She added that this creates a common language for all parties working on a particular case, which aids in communication.
Ms Kristine Lam, 28, manager of Care Corner Project StART, a family violence specialist centre, said the guides also provides clarity and helps bridge the gap between differing viewpoints of different professions working with the same family.
Ms Lam, who was involved in the adaptation and development of the guides, said: "It tells us what is the standard of what is okay and what is not okay."
She added: "They tell us exactly what questions to ask. Thus professionals without knowledge of family violence can be easily trained to use them."