Beyond Parental Control cases hit 10-year high
Most BPCs were made against teen girls
When the Ministry of Social and Family Development updated its Beyond Parental Control (BPC) statistics for 2009 to 2018 on its website on Wednesday, it revealed a worrying fact.
The number of new BPC cases last year was at a 10-year high.
The statistics also showed that in nine of those years, most of the BPCs were made against girls.
And overall, most of the complaints were made against children aged 13 to 14.
Psychologist Carol Balhetchet said: "Girls are often more emotional and react to their emotions differently than boys.
"Girls tend to internalise and feel more intensely, while boys will often project outward, whether by playing computer games or running away from home."
Mr Clinton Galistan, director of justice and institutions at Lutheran Community Care Services and former senior prison officer, told The New Paper it could also be that when girls mix with other girls, they could be more easily influenced by them.
The experts said it was no surprise that children between the ages of 13 and 14 were more likely to act out.
Mr Galistan said: "At that age, they are going through many changes.
"From primary to secondary school, they are facing physiological change, along with increased pressure to perform in school and a desire to be validated and recognised by their peers.
"It is the age that with so much going on in their lives, if there is a lack of communication, they start to feel misunderstood and act out in different ways."
Dr Balhetchet said this is the age where they discover they have a voice and feel emotions intensely.
She said: "They are starting to become socially and mentally aware and feel like they are adults."
The experts added that the hormonal and physical changes can also escalate some of the stresses and emotions felt.
Mr Galistan said: "Often, when children are exhibiting behavioural issues, instead of supporting their emotions and understanding their needs, parents attempt to manage the behaviours, which leads to anger, misunderstanding and resentment."
He added that because these children might not have the tools or language to express and process these emotions, they can manifest in silence and sullenness, which parents often react negatively to, compounding the problem.
He said: "When children have issues, the parents are never fully innocent."
How to prevent abusive behaviour in children
Experts said there are means to prevent such behaviour and victims should seek protection.
Parents should take time to communicate and explain their actions to the child.
For example, should a parent lose his temper and lash out, he or she should explain to the child that violence or anger is not the solution, and apologise when necessary.
Vulnerability and communication can be powerful tools in establishing a relationship.
Setting up boundaries
Parents should set up simple rules that family members follow to ensure fair and respectful behaviour towards each other.
The rules should apply not just to the children but to the parents as well, for example, not raising their voices at each other.
Being a role model
Parents should be careful to exhibit a good example, including being respectful to others, including their spouse and service staff.
Children are constantly watching and emulating their parents. If the parent exhibits disrespectful behaviour, such actions are often internalised by the child.
Manage exposure to social media and the Internet
Parents should encourage open communication on the child's Internet usage to ensure the child will seek their advice regarding content he might come across.
What to do should your child exhibit violence against you:
According to the Pave website, which provides integrated services against interpersonal violence, some actions those who encounter violence can take include:
- Seeking help from specialist organisations or family service centres.
- Applying for a protection order.
- Applying for protection against harassment.
- Making a magistrate's complaint at the State Courts to seek redress for an offence punishable by law.
- CHEOW SUE-ANN