A caring presence for troubled teens

A caring presence for troubled teens

School counsellors who handle older children deal with a different set of issues.

At Assumption Pathway School, which takes in students who have failed their Primary School Leaving Examination, a school counsellor and a social worker each work in pairs with teachers to reach out to the teens.

Social worker Eunice Chng, 28, and English language teacher Lee Nyuk Phing, 40, worked together to get a 15-year-old Year1 repeat student back to school.

He was in school for less than half of his first year.

When he was held back in Year 1, they tried various means to get him to attend school, including messaging him repeatedly on Facebook or by SMS to ask where he was and telling him they were worried about him.

His attendance improved after their constant efforts, said Miss Lee. "Knowing that we care has made a difference to his attendance and he will usually turn up after our messages," she added. Miss Chng said she has learnt to speak in shorter sentences so the children could understand.

Added Miss Lee: "I had to learn words like 'lepak', which means hang out, so as to decode their SMSes."

Assumption Pathway's school counsellor Siti Qhuzaimah Ramlan, 30, and teacher Shirin Salleh, 41, worked together to help a 16-year-old Secondary 3 student who was prone to self-mutilation and truancy.

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