He's at Home with at-risk youth

He's at Home with at-risk youth
Youth Guidance Officers
Mr Ken How, Youth Guidance Officer with the Boys' Home at his residence on 20 April 2014. He coaches troubled young people in a juvenile home in self-discipline, good habits and values. His parents are also youth guidance officers.

SINGAPORE - He may not live in the same house now as his parents, but they work in the same type of homes - juvenile homes, that is.

Mr Ken How, 33, and his parents are youth guidance officers, whose job is to coach troubled young people in self-discipline, good habits and values.

The Hows are among 80 or so youth guidance officers at the two juvenile homes run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Mr How and his father, 62, work at the Singapore Boys' Home; his mother, in her late 50s, at the Singapore Girls' Home.

"I heard stories from my parents during conversations over dinner, so I had some understanding of what the job is like," he told The Straits Times last week, during a media visit to the Singapore Girls' Home.

Youth guidance officers spend the most time with residents of these juvenile homes, more than teachers and youth case workers.

Mr How, who has an engineering diploma, said it was a remark by his father which led him to work at the Boys' Home two years ago.

Before that, he spent 10 years in the Singapore Armed Forces and had enforced discipline as a warrant officer.

"One day, my father said: 'Since you're dealing with difficult soldiers in the army, and you're quite good at it, why not consider joining the home and taking care of difficult youth?' "

His parents, who met in the police force, joined the juvenile homes after retiring. Mr How's younger sister is a secretary.

The Boys' Home has about 120 boys, mostly juvenile offenders.

But the younger Mr How takes care of boys said to be beyond parental control (BPC) or under care and protection orders (CPOs).

The orders are usually issued to those who are neglected, abused, or at risk of abuse.

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