9 July 2018
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether there has been an increase in the number of children aged 14 and below involved in self-harm cases; (b) how these cases came to be reported; and (c) what assistance was rendered to the children and their families.
1 Self-harm typically occurs in private. The child's injury may come to the attention of others when there are observable scars or medical attention is required.
2 In school, students are taught healthy ways of coping with stress and personal difficulties, and are encouraged to seek help from trusted adults. They are also taught to look out for and support one another and to alert their teacher or school counsellor if their friends encounter difficulties. Students who self-harm would be referred to school counsellors for help. For complex cases, school counsellors would refer them for further assessment and intervention by medical doctors, clinical psychologists, or other relevant specialists. The number of students aged 14 and below who have been referred for school counselling over the past 3 years has been small with no significant increase.
3 Self-harm cases may also present at hospitals for treatment of physical injuries. Over the past 3 years, the number of hospital admissions for self-inflicted injuries among children aged 14 years and below was 42 in 2015, 37 in 2016 and 30 in 2017. These children would be treated for their physical injuries and provided with counselling and psychological support to empower them with other forms of coping techniques.
4 Mental well-being is important in enabling our children to manage stress well. As the causes of self-harm are often complex and multi-faceted, we take a holistic approach to support children with self-harming behaviour, as well as their families. Families and children with psycho-social issues are referred directly to professionals, or community touch points such as Family Service Centres (FSCs) so that they can receive appropriate help to deal with the issues and achieve greater resilience. MSF's Social Service Offices help FSCs to coordinate with various government agencies to ensure appropriate support for clients and work through the potential stressors on the family.