Measure to Protect Children at Home from Sexual Grooming and Harassment on Social Media

Parliamentary Question, 18 Feb 2020

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what measures are being taken to protect children from sexual grooming and harassment through their exposure to social media in the home and from a very early age; and (b) what percentage of all reported sexual assault cases involving children in the last three years took place in homes under the Public Rental Scheme.

Mr K Shanmugam: We have strengthened the law to enhance protection for children against sexual offences. The amendments to the Penal Code came into effect on 1 January 2020. In particular, the threshold for the offence of sexual grooming has been lowered, by reducing from two to one, the number of instances of prior contact between the offender and the child needed to make out the offence. Another amendment is the reduction of the age floor below which an offender cannot be charged for the offence of sexual grooming, from 21 to 18 years of age. In addition, new offences were introduced, for example, to criminalise sexual communication with a minor or showing a minor a sexual image. This allows authorities to intervene earlier, before the offender is able to commit additional and more serious sexual offences.

The Government has taken steps on various fronts to raise public awareness of the risks associated with the use of the Internet and social media. Through MOE’s Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) programme, students learn about the harmful and criminal exploitation of the internet and how to protect themselves. MCI, on its part, has been strengthening digital literacy in Singapore. In July 2019, the Digital Media and Information Literacy Framework was launched to deepen Singaporeans’ appreciation of the benefits and risks of digital technologies and information. MCI’s partner agencies and programme owners, such as NLB, have incorporated this framework into their programmes.

Police do not track statistics on the number of sexual assault cases involving children, broken down by the type of housing in which the crime was committed. We take a serious view of sexual assault against all children, regardless of where it takes place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

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A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.