2024年5月15日水曜日

DELINQUENT YOUTH WHO MADE 'EXTRAORDINARY' PROGRESS GETS EARLY DISCHARGE FROM CHILDREN'S HOME - SINGAPORE

DELINQUENT YOUTH WHO MADE 'EXTRAORDINARY' PROGRESS GETS EARLY DISCHARGE FROM CHILDREN'S HOME - SINGAPORE


@Jackie San


The home placement was intended to protect the teen, who was 16 that year, from delinquency until he became an adult. It spurred him and his mother to turn their lives around.


He enrolled in a vocational course and was part of a culinary team selected to prepare food for the farewell reception for former president Halimah Yacob at the Istana.


Meanwhile, his mother sought treatment for her mental health conditions. She is on long-term anti-psychotic medication for drug-induced psychosis and opioid dependence.


Their efforts enabled them to be reunited earlier than expected.


The youth, who is now 19 years old, made such remarkable progress that the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) applied to the Youth Court for his early discharge from the home – nearly two years before he was due to be discharged, at the age of 21.


The home also put together a comprehensive plan to help him in the future, including an option for him to apply for an in-house scholarship that is awarded to former residents who want to further their studies.


The MSF’s application was granted by District Judge Patrick Tay, who described the youth’s progress as “extraordinary” in written grounds of decision published on April 26.


Judge Tay said it was in the best interests of the youth to discharge the care and protection order that had committed him to the home and return him to the care of his mother.


He added: “Ultimately, the newfound caregiving ability of the mother and maturity of the youth allayed the concerns that had necessitated his committal to the home.”


The skills that the youth acquired have also equipped him to support himself and his family, said the judge.


He added that the plan devised by the home puts the youth in good stead to live independently as a productive member of society.


Judge Tay’s decision was made on the advice of Mr Josephus Tan, a lawyer, and Mr Syahrin Mohd Salleh, a religious teacher, who serve on the panel of advisers to the court in such proceedings. The panel is made up of individuals in the community who have experience working with youth, and are appointed by the Singapore president.


Youth Court hearings are closed to the public, and information that may reveal the person’s identity cannot be published.


In 2011, when he was six years old, the youth was placed on care and protection orders under the Children and Young Persons Act because of his parents’ neglect.


Both his parents have been repeatedly incarcerated for drug-related offences. His father is serving an eight-year jail term for a sexual offence.


His elder brother recently served 18 months’ reformative training for drug-related offences, and his two younger siblings were, like him, placed in protective care.


The youth was initially placed in the care of a foster family.


In 2021, he was committed to a children’s home after he was investigated by the police. He was eventually issued a one-year conditional warning over an undisclosed offence.


As part of his vocational course, he was attached to the culinary division of a hotel.


His manager reported that he performed well in his work, showed strong leadership qualities and was well on his way to achieving his vocational qualification.


The youth said he was “proud of himself and is thankful for the opportunities opened to him”. He said he aims to pursue his studies in the polytechnic in culinary arts, and aspires to be a professional chef.


He also learnt how to manage his finances with the help of a case worker from the MSF.


He received $1,900 each month from his attachment, which he used to pay for groceries and other necessities for his family.


He also gave his mother $100 each month, and presented monetary gifts to his former foster family.


The youth also sought treatment with the National Addictions Management Service (Nams) to address his delinquent tendencies. His risk of re-offending was assessed to be low after he completed the treatment.


To prepare for living with his mother, he worked on identifying the triggers that escalated her mental health conditions and on managing her in the event of such an escalation.


Judge Tay lauded the MSF, the Child Protective Service, Nams, and the home for rescuing the youth from neglect and delinquency.


“Much of the work in the child protection ecosystem is unsung. This case testifies to the good that it does,” he said.


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@Jackie San

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