Child Abuse in Singapore – Physical Abuse

Physical abuse refers to any act that causes injury to a child by non-accidental means. These injuries could be the result of caning or a series of repeated assaults – including deliberately causing bruises, cuts and others by actions such as beating, shaking and “excessive discipline”.Child abuse in Singapore includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Based on KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) findings between 2011 to 2016,the cases of child abuse where the biological parents were reported is 65%. Fathers make up the 37% and mothers 28%. The children reported were mainly aged from infants up to eight years. These children looked up to their parents as their protector and saviour.

However, when the abusers are their parents, it affects the child in their social and emotional well-being. Compromising on safety, comfort and protection, their parents have become a source of danger or harm. When this happens, the children will suffer helplessly on their own without having the emotional relief to trust in a safe and secure person leading to insecure attachments and disorganised relationship problem whereby children lost their confidante and trust on their biological parents and began to distance themselves from everyone around them including their educators.They will close themselves out of fear of recurrence to their family members. The lack of trust in parents/others often leads to difficulty in maintaining relationships as it is very difficult for the child to trust people or know who is trustworthy when they cannot even trust their own parents. When the child feels distressed, their level of anxiety and anger elevates.

They are unable to regulate their emotions safely and often get their emotions stuffed down or dismissed thus the child becomes depressed and withdrawn. They will tend to avoid meeting people and in the long term, they lose their social skills and ability to communicate and interact to form and maintain healthy relationships throughout their life.

As educators, we play a crucial role in protecting and preventing child abuse and neglect. Early detection and intervention are opportunities to develop close contact with families in order to observe day-to-day changes in the children behavior as they spent most of their time in school, so it is likely that primary caregivers find markings on children that are out of the ordina.

For these children, school is often their ‘second home’ where they seek shelter, comfort, and warmth. Therefore, we should ensure a thorough examination of children, especially during a health check and bath where possible marks can be seen. When a child acts indifferently, approach them with comfort and confide with sincerity. The key is to reassure the child that educators can be trusted, so that they will open up and share their story. Educators must prepare logs to record pieces of evidence and report to the centre principal followed by the authorities as it is vital and can prevent the abuse from reoccurring.

In conclusion, educators have to act as the whistle-blower to protect these children who may or are abused. Therefore, we need to protect these helpless children from any form of abuse. The long term effect of physical abuse on children can lead to severe emotional, behavioral and learning problems. Injuries inflicted to the child’s brain can lead to cognitive delays and severe emotional issues that could affect their quality of life in the future.

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