When parents dial 999

When parents dial 999

He thought his mother and grandmother blamed him for his father's death, and it made 12-year-old Kevin snap.

His father had just died from stomach cancer, and Kevin believed his family thought it was his video gaming addiction and truancy that had "worried (his father) to death".

One day, a furious Kevin picked up a kitchen knife and pointed it at his mother, threatening to kill her.

He had enough of the "accusations".

The hour-long stand-off ended when his mother Lily sought help from the police and social services.

Their real names and ages are withheld to protect their identities as Kevin is a minor.

This was one of the worst youth-related cases that Ms Joy Lim, assistant director of Youth Service Centre (Toa Payoh), run by Singapore Children's Society, has encountered.

While cases of juvenile delinquency are common, it is not often that parents are forced to call the cops on their children.

Says Ms Lim: "It is a dilemma for parents with these kids. It is a difficult decision for them initially, but they come to realise that they have run out of options to control their children.

"Either they condone their behaviour and the children turn out to be bad people, or they decide to grapple with the root of the problem and get help from the authorities."

Known as a Beyond Parental Control (BPC) order, it is meant for children below 16 years of age who display behavioural problems at school or at home.

Desperate parents can file a BPC complaint against their child at the Juvenile Court as a last resort.

Last year, there were 66 BPC cases: 40 involved girls and 26 involved boys.

These can be cases of truancy, runaways, underage sex and, in rare cases, violence against the family, says Ms Lim, who has 13 years' experience in social work.

In Kevin's case, he was deemed to be beyond control and was placed in a boys' home under a statutory supervision order for two years.

This meant that he had to report to a supervision officer and was required to attend counselling and other programmes.

"During counselling, there was a lot of digging up of old wounds and sorting out the misunderstandings," says Ms Lim.

"(Kevin) learnt that his mother was distraught and bereaved, and (Lily) needed to know that her son used video games as a form of escape."

Even Kevin's grandmother realised that the words she had used were interpreted as accusations by Kevin.

Today, Kevin and Lily have put aside their differences and repaired their mother-son relationship.

"He actually told me that it was a huge relief for him, as counselling unearthed the root of the problem and allowed them to solve it together."

In January, Lianhe Wanbao ran a report on a mother who dragged her daughter, in her early 20s, to the police station to turn her in.

The mother had seen closed circuit television pictures of her daughter, which had been put up by the police, claiming that she is involved in loan shark harassment.

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