SINGAPORE—As if the difficulties arising from the COVID-19 outbreak haven’t been tragic enough, Singapore police have reported that family violence cases have increased by 22 per cent since the circuit breaker period began on April 7.
Rise in family violence cases
Latest figures shared by the police show that 476 police reports on family violence were filed in the period between April 7 and May 6. This was a 22 per cent jump from the monthly average of 389 cases reported before the circuit breaker period.
The authorities shared the numbers in a statement made on Thursday (May 14), noting that family violence offences include those where hurt was caused and criminal force used, as well as assault, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement.
With people staying home to observe circuit breaker measures, the police have pledged to proactively provide more assistance to high-risk victims of family violence and to help offenders get the treatment they need.
The police plan to determine which victims are at the highest risk of being at the receiving end of more family violence. They will then be referred to social services for immediate support, even if the victims themselves do not ask for help or somewhere to stay.
Previously, the protocol dictated that victims were referred to a nearby family service centre or a family violence specialist centre, only if they seek assistance. Victims who ask for help with finding shelter are also referred to any one of the four crisis shelters set-up and funded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
The police will “consider a number of factors, including the profiles of their offenders and the nature of violence inflicted” when making their professional assessments of high-risk victims.
Beyond the assessment, the police explained that additional support will be provided to victims in the form of regular follow-ups to check on their well-being and to see if any additional assistance is necessary.
In terms of getting to the bottom of why people engage in family violence in the first place, the authorities have a plan to help offenders face root issues that drive them to physically hurt their family members.
Offenders will be referred to social workers, who will then review the case and determine the course of action necessary, whether it be in the form of therapy and counselling, mental health assistance and even financial help. From there, the offenders will be directed to the proper agencies, ensuring that they get the help they need as early as possible.
These efforts, which were first rolled out last year at the Bedok Police Division, are now available for all police land divisions.
Inter-agency task force to combat family violence
In February, an inter-agency task force co-chaired by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling was formed to tackle the issue of family violence.
The task force is focusing on increasing public awareness on the matter and giving the proper assistance to both victims and offenders.
On April 23, the committee said that the extra stress coming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict circuit breaker measures could potentially lead to violence and urged anyone experiencing family violence to ask for help.
“Worldwide trends show that stress and social isolation caused by Covid-19 could lead to more cases of family violence. We need to keep the victims of family violence on our radar and ensure that harm does not happen to them again.
“We also appeal to the community to help keep a look out for signs of family violence and to report their suspicions so that help can be rendered to the victim as soon as possible. The simple act of reporting can help save someone’s life or prevent further suffering,” said Ms Sun on Thursday.
What constitutes family violence?
In a video that she shared on her Facebook page on Tuesday (May 12), the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs spoke recognising the signs of family violence, noting that it’s not just about physical abuse.
Ms Sun noted that family violence could take different forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological or emotional abuse and neglect. She went on to cite different signs of each form abuse.
Here is the video below:
Recognising the signs of Family ViolenceYou can be someone’s saviour, someone’s hero.Look out for signs of family violence. Victims can be a relative, a neighbour, a child your child knows from school.Report your suspicions. You can save a life.Ministry of Home Affairs, SingaporeMSF Singapore
Posted by Sun Xueling on Sunday, 10 May 2020
How to get help
The following hotlines are ready to provide support to victims of family violence:
• National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868
Help for the elderly
• Agency for Integrated Care Hotline: 1800-650-6060
Regarding violence and abuse
• 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: 6555-0390
• Project StART: 6476-1482
• Trans Safe Centre: 6449-9088
Regarding parenting and marital issues
• Community Psychology Hub’s Online Counselling platform: CPHOnlineCounselling.sg
Therapy and counselling
• Touchline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
• Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800