Children learn what they live.
And live what they’ve learned.
“He looks like a mini version of you!” my friend exclaimed, as I showed her a photograph of my baby boy. She was one amongst many friends and relatives who had shared that my son looked like me.
It is natural that children take after their parents in terms of physical appearance. However, what may be of greater importance is that children also model their behaviours on their parents’ behaviours and learn from them. Research studies have shown that there may be a vicious inter-generational cycle of family violence. It has been suggested that boys who witness their fathers beating up their mothers are ten times more likely to abuse their future spouses.
A recent news report highlighted a government study which supported these proposals. Amongst individuals who had filed for personal protection orders, 11% had the same order made against them later in life. This suggests that individuals who suffered abuse may became perpetrators themselves. The government has said that in order to tackle domestic violence, its focus will be on breaking this cycle. This means finding ways to care for the victims, as well as the perpetrators, who may themselves be victims of abuse.
In the not-so-distant past, family violence was a taboo topic. People kept silent, and were discouraged from “airing a family’s dirty laundry in public”. I am grateful that this situation is changing. In schools, PAVE and MOE have distributed an educational picture book titled A Day with Bob to give children simple steps on how to break the silence on family violence. However, dealing with the problem of domestic violence does not only lie with the government and the social service sector. It is hoped that the workplace can be another place of support for those affected by family violence. More outreach activities are being organised to raise awareness in businesses and equip workplaces to support victims of domestic violence.
I am sure that I am not a perpetrator of violence, but nonetheless, being a good parental role model is still not easy. In fact, it can be punishingly hard work. However, what keeps me trying my best is the desire to give my family the good inheritance of a joyful, peaceful, and loving home. I would like to invite us all, in our own families, to build virtuous cycles, and break vicious cycles.
St Rita of Cascia, Patroness of Survivors of Domestic Abuse, pray for us.
Family Violence Helplines
If you are, or know, someone who is experiencing family violence, please call any of these helplines:
- Montfort Care’s Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445 0400
- PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555 0390
- TRANS SAFE Centre: 6449 9088
- Care Corner Project StART: 6476 1482
- HEART @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6819 9170
- ComCare Hotline: 1800-222 0000
- The National CARE Hotline: 1800-202-6868
For urgent cases that require immediate assistance, contact the police at 999 or SMS 71999.
- More focus on equipping S’pore workplaces with support for victims of domestic violence (The Straits Times, 8 February 2021)
- Trying to break the cycle of family violence (The Straits Times, 9 February 2021)
- MSF launches 24-hour domestic violence helpline for victims, public to seek help (Channel NewsAsia, 23 February 2021)
Kelvin Lim is a husband, a father of two, and a Programme Executive Trainee at Caritas Singapore. His favourite book is “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World” by Henri J. M. Nouwen.