“Two workers at a children’s home were yesterday charged with ill-treating those they were supposed to be caring for” (Two Workers At Children’s Home Face Abuse Charges, Elena Chong).
Besides the hiring of a former superintendent and the assurance by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) of continued checks “to ensure standards are adhered to at [Pertapis Childrens’ Home] and other children’s homes” (ST, Apr. 25) – after two workers at the institution were charged for ill treatment of the beneficiaries – it would appear that control systems should be reviewed to not only prevent future oversight in recruitment or management, but also to ensure that transgressions are reported in a timely fashion.
The report noted that the alleged abuse “happened between 2012 and January last year”, that there were multiple charges, and that the MSF – which eventually lodged a police report – was only alerted through a tip-off. One should therefore be concerned that the episodes went undetected for such a long time, that the two workers were involved in multiple acts, and that Pertapis itself was oblivious for two years until a report was made. In this vein the “immediate action” the home has promised seems reactive and hard to be reassured by.
These allegations could be dismissed as isolated incidents, though it would perhaps be useful for the MSF to provide additional context. Have there been similar cases in the past years, and how many police reports has the MSF lodged? Consequently what are the control systems and standards – besides whistleblowing – in place for beneficiaries or other employees who witness such events? And as more details about these inappropriate physical punishment meted out by the duo one might also wonder whether their colleagues could have raised the alarm right from the get-go. After all the acts of caning young children, putting them in cupboards, as well as other forms of physical contact are not discreet ones.
And with the spotlight on the alleged perpetrators one further hopes that guidance is provided to the children who might have been at the receiving end of the abuse.