A clinical psychologist has asked why the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) crime prevention posters seem to be targeted towards victims instead of potential perpetrators. Kim Lian Rolles-Abraham asked on social media, last Friday (26 Apr):
“Today, a patient of mine and I were discussing the notion of these signs we now see quite often in MRTs and buses.
“Her gripe (which I fully agreed with) was – “why are the ads about instructing victims about what not to do?” – totally fair. Shouldn’t the ads be about warning someone NOT to be a perpetrator, the same way we have “DO NOT STEAL, IT IS A CRIME” signs?”
A look at SPF’s Crime Prevention Posters webpage shows a gallery of 13 General Crime Posters. Of these 13 posters, 11 targets potential victims and instructs them against becoming a victim of crime while only two posters addresses potential perpetrators.
There is only 1 crime prevention poster that has to do with outrage of modesty. This poster urges victims to call the police:
Sharing a photo of a similar poster, placed in an MRT station, asking molestation victims to call the police, Kim wrote: “Victims don’t choose to be victims. It happens to them. Perpetrators, on the other hand, have a choice as to whether or not they should act on their urges to violate another.”
Noting that such posters fail to encapsulate the reason why victims should be silent, no matter how well-meaning the posters could be, Kim continued:
“Victims are silent for reasons which well-meaning ads such as these cannot encapsulate. Victims are silent because in that moment of shock and horror, they freeze; they dissociate, and the moment is over, the perpetrator is gone, and the act has been done.
“Sometimes the victims don’t even have a face to the crime. In other cases, victims are shamed, threatened or guilted into being quiet. Ultimately, what the victim chooses to do with what has been done to them is up to them – many of them feel that speaking out or reporting the perpetrator to the police would only mean rehashing the details of the incident and reliving the trauma, over and over and over again – and who knows if true justice will prevail, after all.”
Asking the authorities to tell potential perpetrators what not to do instead of telling victims what they should do, the psychologist wrote: “Every victim has his/her own way of coping with what has happened, and will find his/her own way of closure. Sometimes that means NOT reporting the crime, but instead getting the help and support they need to heal.
“Don’t tell victims what not and/or to do. Instead, tell the potential perpetrators what not to do.”
Kim’s post has garnered over 300 shares and over 200 reactions on social media so far. Read her thoughts in full here:
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