Child abuse cases in S'pore continue to rise after hitting decade-high in 2020, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Child abuse cases in S'pore continue to rise after hitting decade-high in 2020

There was a sharp spike in the number of child abuse cases investigated by the authorities in 2021.

This follows the rise in 2020, which had the highest number of cases in a decade, according to data from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

The MSF's Child Protective Service (CPS) investigated 2,141 cases of abuse in 2021, 63 per cent more than the 1,313 cases in 2020.

Neglect cases numbering 910 made up the bulk of the investigations in 2021, and saw the sharpest rise from 2020, more than doubling from 375 cases that year.

Cases of neglect include those where children were poorly supervised or had experienced emotional abuse or medical neglect.

In a case investigated by CPS, four children were found to have no food or electricity at home as their parents were stressed due to job instability and financial difficulties.

Some neglected and underfed children have injured themselves when they try to do chores, or cook for themselves, said Mr Desmurn Lim, director of the charity Montfort Care's Big Love programme.

Child sexual abuse cases also jumped 70 per cent from 261 cases investigated in 2020 to 443 cases in 2021 - an 11-year high.

Physical abuse cases rose by 16 per cent, from 677 cases investigated in 2020 to 788 cases in 2021.

MSF said more cases were investigated because there were more referrals from CPS' community partners such as Family Service Centres, schools and Child Protection Specialist Centres.

CPS deals with more serious cases, such as parents who fail to provide adequate food, clothing or medical care for their children, or deliberately inflict serious injuries on them.

The number of inquiries received by CPS also increased by 25 per cent from the year before, though these calls include those that may not involve cases of actual violence.

This increase was mainly due to more outreach efforts and public awareness of family violence, MSF said, with more calling the National Anti-Violence Helpline - a 24-hour helpline for people to report family violence, as well as cases of abuse and neglect.

Family violence helplines

  • Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre (6445-0400)
  • Heart @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre (6819-9170)
  • Pave Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection Specialist Centre (6555-0390)
  • Project StART (6476-1482)
  • Trans Safe Centre (6449-9088)
  • National Anti-Violence Helpline (1800-777-0000)