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CHILD CUSTODY AND CHILD ABUSE

In Singapore, when child abuse is reported, the Child Protection Service (CPS) will be called to investigate.

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Singapore is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.   The Convention commits signatory countries to protect young children from abuse or neglect.

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In Singapore, when child abuse is reported, the Child Protection Service (CPS) will be called to investigate. The CPS comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The CPS is normally called in when the child abuse is severe or involves a sexual complaint.

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A Child Protection Officer (CPO) is assigned to the case. The CPS’ immediate objectives are to ensure the safety of the child.

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The CPO typically work with the child, family members and professionals to keep the child safe and free from neglect. A care and protection plan is drawn up with the family.

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CPS will present its investigation findings to the Child Abuse Protection Team (CAPT).   The role of CAPT is to review CPS’s investigation findings, determine the risk of harm posed to the child,  and to approve the future plans for the well being of the child.

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Specialised services in the form of psychological support or counselling may be provided in addition to services by community partners. CPS will review the action plan regularly, and if the child remains vulnerable, new plans will be drawn up.  More drastic action such as removing the child from the family home and placing the child in a temporary home may be considered.

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If parents are seen to obstruct the work of the CPS, CPS may apply to the Court for a Care and Protection Order to protect the child from further harm. Under the Order, a child may be removed from his/her home due to immediate safety concerns.

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Where the family home is deemed unsafe for the child, CPS may consider moving the child to a relative’s home.  This provides some familiarity for the child if he/she is staying with a relative.

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If a next of kin is not available to house the child, CPS will consider foster care. In Singapore, there is a group of selfless foster volunteers who take in abused children and look after them if CPS and the courts are of the view that this is absolutely necessary.   It is hoped that with foster care, the abused child will have a safe and secure home environment to recover from trauma.   CPS keeps in regular and close contact with the foster parents to monitor the child’s progress.

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If next of kin and foster parents are not suitable or available, the child  may be placed in a government home as a last resort.  These homes provide a more regimental and structured living compared to living with relatives or with foster parents.  The child’s progress is reviewed.  Unless it is determined that the child can have a safe environment in his/her own home, the government home may be the residence that the child grows up in for a period of time.  The well-being and safety of the child is paramount.

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Related Articles:

Child Custody in Singapore

Personal Protection Orders

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