Here’s something all parents can relate to:
Child did something wrong. Parents are angry. Parents discussing among themselves how they should tell Ah Boy / Ah Girl what was done needs to be corrected.
For any disciplinary action parents undertake, the most important thing is to prevent the child from getting hurt, be it physically or emotionally.
Unfortunately, not everyone believes in the same thing.
Physical & Verbal Abuse Over The Span Of Two Years
Things were handled in a drastic manner when a 44-year-old lady took tough measures to discipline her stepson.
An ex-teacher who resigned from her role in 2013, the lady (her name remains confidential due to a gag order to protect the child’s identity) started abusing her stepson for a span of two years, from 2016 to 2018.
The boy was living with his father, his stepmother and stepsister back then.
The first incident occurred in November 2016.
Her stepson, who was 11 years old then, finished his meal and placed the plate in the kitchen sink before going back into his room.
The lady then told her stepson to wash the plate.
While the stepson was doing the washing, the lady reportedly used a mug to hit the back of the boy’s head.
Upon noticing that her stepson was bleeding, she told the boy to wash his wound and also informed her husband about the incident.
The boy was taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) the following day where he was treated for three scalp lacerations.
No police report was made as the lady apologised to her stepson, promising him that such an incident will not happen again.
Second Incident in 2017
On May 19, 2017, when testing her stepson on an English test question, the lady slapped the boy’s face several times when he wasn’t able to recall the question.
The boy heard a ringing sound in his head and had blood in his mouth due to the slaps.
The boy headed to his aunt’s house the next day.
Upon noticing the boy’s injuries, the aunt lodged a police report and took her nephew to KKH for treatment. The boy had abrasions over both of his cheeks and one of his teeth was somewhat detached.
The lady was under police investigations for this incident.
During the course of investigations, the stepson told the police that he loves his stepmother and does not want her to go to court.
The whole family was then referred to the Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre. This was done after an intervention by The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
They were placed on the Safe and Strong Families programme (SSF) in the month of October 2017.
Stepmother Didn’t Cooperate
While in the programme, the lady insisted that her stepson was in the wrong and should be disciplined.
Though the lady did not physically abuse her stepson, she continued with her verbal abuse, including calling him a ‘prostitute’s child’ and tearing up his Good Conduct Award.
The third incident took place on 20 July 2018 where the lady punched the boy in the nose, causing him to bleed.
He had allegedly lied about completing the tasks assigned to him.
A week later, he was slapped several times when his stepmother discovered that he has skipped out on remedial lessons.
She had reportedly hit his face and arms with a bag.
This time, his injuries were noticed by a teacher who escalated the issue.
When questioned by the vice-principal, the boy reportedly said that there was “nothing wrong” about how he was treated.
The police and Ministry of Social and Family (MSF) were alerted and the boy was taken to KKH on 30 July.
Pleaded Guilty To 3 Counts Of Ill-Treating A Child
During the court hearing on September 1, the lady pleaded guilty to three counts of ill-treating a child.
Two other charges for similar offences will be considered during sentencing.
The lady is currently out on bail and will be sentenced on October 6.
Signs Of Child Abuse
Family violence can cause both physical and emotional scars to the victims. There is a difference between disciplining a child versus child abuse.
According to the MSF, there are other forms of child abuse as well.
- Neglect (Where the provider fails to give adequate supervision, food, medical care and/or clothing appropriate to the child’s age and level of development)
- Sexual abuse (An act where the child is used for sexual pleasure or being sexually taken advantage of)
- Emotional and psychological abuse (Where the child is abused emotionally and psychologically, which may damage the child’s ability to behave, think, reason and function)
If you notice that the child is experiencing depression, or suffering from burns or fractures, these might be signs that something is amiss.
To render assistance to children who are going through family violence, do contact ComCare Call at 1800 222 0000.
To find out more about family violence and how to stop such incidents from happening, visit: https://www.msf.gov.sg/breakthesilence/Pages/Home.aspx