“People might think that we might be playing God,” shared a child protection officer in a CNA Insider report. Another officer added, “People often think that our job is to simply remove children and break up families… but the big part of our job is to also support families so that they can keep the child safe, and at the same time we want to rebuild the relationships between parents and the child.”
Their sharings reminded me of my previous job as a youth worker. I had worked with children and youths, some of whom witnessed family violence at home. As parents are their child’s first teachers, these children and youths learned to normalise aggression and violence. They learned that it was “normal” to hit someone when you are angry. It was “normal” to disrespect someone whom you have heard bad things about. And, it was “normal” to bully the peer whom you dislike.
Imagine what happens when a child or youth experiencing family violence or abuse grows up and starts their own family? What are the chances that the abuse will repeat itself? Studies tell us that a long-term consequence of child abuse is the increased likelihood of inter-generational violence. A child or teen who was abused during their growing up years is at an increased risk of abusing their own children in the future. Will this cycle of violence ever come to an end?
I think we can do our part to break the cycle. We need to recognise the signs and symptoms of child abuse. We can take note of the avenues to report the abuse and get help for the child and family. And, we can serve as positive role models to these children.
The Church teaches us to treat our children and youth with respect: “special attention must be devoted to the children by developing a profound esteem for their personal dignity, and a great respect and generous concern for their rights” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio of Pope John Paul II to the Episcopate, to the Clergy and to the Faithful of the Whole Catholic Church on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, #26). Let us respond to this call and play our part.
Thomas Goh is part of the Parish Engagement team at Caritas Singapore. He is a fervent Liverpool supporter. He also has a strong passion for photography as he hopes to capture moments that can be passed down from generation to generation.