Youth at risk

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Definitions and Scope

“Those who have been subjected to a combination of interrelated biological, psychological, and social factors that result in a greater likelihood for the development of delinquency, substance abuse, or other related anti-social and self destructive behaviours” - Inter-Ministry Committee on Youth Crime (IMYC), 2002

Previously, there were many definitions of youth at risk by different agencies and VWOs, but the MSF is trying to standardise this through an overarching youth-at-risk engagement framework launched in April 2016. It covers youths who may have pre-delinquency traits, prior drug experiences, incarcerated parents and/or anti-social or unhealthy presenting behaviours such as risky sexual behaviours, delinquency, violence, etc. [1]

See also youthreach definition [2]

Trybe: youth at risk - not well engaged in school, negative peer influence, frustration and intolerance, poor decision making skills. Not offended. -offenders (youth in risk) - Boys Hostel (12-21 male porbationers), Community Rehab Centre (16-21 first time drug abusers) - youth at risk

rehab approach for the offenders will be strengthen family support. Work with MSF for targetted counseling. Eg male drug abusers go though matrix program...look at triggers of using drugs. Work closely with MHA and MSF.

because there is case management, so no need for segmentation. go through similar program in the institution. use restorative practices. standardised programsa nd customised.

Target Population: Youth at Risk

Client Segments

poor attendanc eor see shcool is labelled as problem

At risk and in risk: those who have offended, they have been caught, the others havent been causght, or just not reach the risk yet. Those who have gone through court system, will think differently. once caught, they have to serve something.

Trybe's segmentaisation -time-out program, school identifies and they work on socil-emotional copetencies, relationship management etc, esteem, motivation; usually in group setting -YARE: casework and mentoring, more indivdualised and work with family. [not necessairly mores eirous but more open to one to one] -service learning

Academically under-performing youth -those in normal academic and normal technical streams?

NEET / School drop-outs

Beyond parental control

Juvenile Delinquents

Youth with mental health issues

Size of the Problem

[add links to government stats]

[s there a class difference...whether affluent families use other resources rather than govermewnt or voluntary resources][youths from affluenct fmailies engage in other type sof cirmes, eg cyber crimes]

Emerging group that comes from middle class background (CNB), not majority but there is increaseing gorup.

CYGO defines at risk as about 300 per year (or rather they have secured funding to serve 300). general conduct, peer related issues, risk of dropping out. Left it to each agency to streamline. CYGO found that there is no clear definition of youth at risk, hoping this initiative will help them clarify this definition.

3,265 young people aged from seven to 19 were arrested in 2015, up from 3,120 in 2014 and 3,031 in 2013 (ST 14 Nov 2016)

[youth court sentenced...then serve in their homes, there are other voluntary homes, those homes take in a wider range] [capacity to serve 120, but right now about 70] [see annual rpeort by probabtion service.

[a lot more diversionary programs in place...guidance programs and enhanced step-up][there are some that have gone through diversionary program]

The problem of Youth at risk in Singapore is a relatively less severe one compared to issues such as mental health which are more prevalent or pervasive. According to the latest mental health study, one in ten people in Singapore will be stricken by mental illness in their lifetime. In contrast, the drop out rate for primary and secondary schools was less than 1% in 2014. The latest youth at risk programme launched by MSF aims to serve about 900 at-risk youth over the next three years.[3]

-Useful to track emerging problems among youth include various types of addiction (gaming, social media, tech addiction) and cyber bullying that may require youth workers to reach out to them in different ways.

-Useful to have size of expressed need (those receiving services and on waitlist)

-Insert findings of National Youth Survey of NYC, and Youth Statistics

-refer to Singstat

-Useful to have figures or projections for where the youths are distributed for purpose of service planning: eg whether they are in Tampines or Sengkang.

-useful to insert figures for marriage between minors, or one partner is a minor


Children and Young Persons Act Requirement for all Children and Young Persons Homes to be licensed. All cases of children residing in Homes will be reviewed by a Review Board comprising independent members from the community, to ensure that there are proper care plans in place for children, and also conduct visits to the Homes to ensure that residents have a safe environment (MSF webpage)

Policy Developments

Smaller agencies currently running the programmes will stop receiving new cases from MSF so that the programmes can be centralised at the two integrated service providers' centres in Woodlands and Clementi. Eventually, MSF will roll out such providers all over Singapore (ST 16 Nov 2016)

YARE court order. Therefore youth and parent have to consent to the program, no need to come. Have to sell it to them, dont say 'youth at risk' when they talk to youths?

Desired impact for target group

At risk youth - strengthening of internal resource to overcome adversity, see improvement in decision or coping skills; meaningful engagement - ie they have to enjoy and find fulfillment in attending school, relationship with adult figures and peers. Enjoyment is important (combination of both productive behavior and social relationships)

In risk - Successful re-integration to family and community. remain offence free. taste success in what they are doing, by their own definition... dreams and goals. Walk out not thinking they have served a sentence, but they have done something useful. [There is a community developed]


-Less engaged students - Students Care Service uses psycho-social indicators to measure. School engagement scale. too difficult to chase social workers and school for figures. also do not know how sensitive they are to schools. hard to track (see School Social Work in Students Care Service)

-NEETs- stay in school, finish education, can ask schools for data. (Not sure if schools will give data. Also check Enhanced Step-Up data).

-Juveniles delinquents - goal is no recidivism. Hope it is the last time we see them in Guidance Program. MSF shares recidivism numbers to Students Care Service. Estimate about less than 5-10%.

Needs of Youth at Risk

[ADD: need to add peer group influence; ADD: Need to discover and achieve their aspirations (possible add to 'meaningfully engaged'; need to develop a sense of positive identity]

Need to avoid crime, delinquency and drug use

Existing Resources

-YARE: youth at risk engagement framework, preventing risk of offending. CYGO appointed 10 agencies. But each agency have their own way of running their program, eg sprots, or adventure based couselling or C&C.

-Youth crime prevention roadshow and anti-drug campaigns (NYGR).

-Enhanced STEP-UP A is more preventive (about 70%), B is remedial (almost at rate of dropping out)

-Honorary Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) School Scheme. Help schools and Institute of Technical Education (ITEs) better manage student delinquency by extending police authority to the personnel such as Discipline Masters, Teachers as teacher-cops (NYGR).

-Preventive Drug Education (PDE) DRC Visit Programme. Institutes of Technical Education and VWOs working with youth identify high-risk youth to visit the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) located within the Changi Prison Complex(NYGR).

-Prison Visit Education Programme for Schools (PVEPS). PVEPS targets students who are considered by their schools as high-risk of committing crime due to their school discipline records. The programme aims to deter potential first-time offenders by exposing them to the harshness of prison life. Launched in 2004, PVEPS is a joint initiative by the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Prison Service and Ministry of Education (NYGR).

-School Assembly Talks on Crime Prevention. Organised by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and Singapore Police Force (SPF)(NYGR).

-YouthCOP also preventive. start at sec 1, finish at sec 4. about 3 years. anti crime ambassadors. work with neighborhood police, who come and train some of the group work sessions. eg take youths on a patrol around the neighborhood. Do door to door visits. prevent crime in neighborhood or prevent crime in school? develop skills and competencies in engaging neighbors. Educate them about crime. Use a risk screening tool, but no very successful, for higher risk youths. for their community youths, the risk is lowered, becuase tool is not sensitive enough. [knowledge gap: a more senstitive tool to measure risk level for moderate risk youths]

Gaps and Their Causes

Doing what we can, but the work done by youth agencies alone cannot be the only work, need family work and structural changes. Youth work focus on competencies and awareness and oppor to build competencies. Family work important.

Trybe: - YARE in midst of being evaluated: schools will help to identify and recommend. in HK the outreach model is high, will knock on doors and talk to parents. But in Singapore, hard to capture those within radar. Schools may not detect all youth at risk or different types of at risk issues. Focus is on visible at risk behaviours, and capturable by schools. How to reach out to youths hanging out at home or in cyberspace. Youth who were past probationers, who refer friend. - Siblings of offenders may also be at risk.

Some drugs not able to detect by urine test.

Possible Solutions

Get probation youth to refer friends to YARE--a group that have not offended. Especially for youths who have been exposed to drug use. eg reach out to youths who have tried once, but not caught. youth ambassadors cna be used to detetc and refer.

Need for juveniles to be rehabilitated and reintegrated

Need for guidance and mentoring - from youth perspective, it is having proper guidance and adult mentor.

Definition of rehabilitation: it means that they are going to be corrected and learn form their mistakes.

Existing Resources

Restorative coaching, mentoring

Community-Based Rehabilitation -Court-Ordered Options for Offenders -Pre-Court Diversionary Programme (Guidance Programme) for first time offenders

Institutional Rehabilitation -MSF administered Youth Residential Service (Singapore Boys' Home and Singapore Girls' Home) -Aftercare Service after they leave juvenile homes

Gaps and Their Causes

Not equipped to deal with youths with mental health related issues; eg in YARE program, diagnosed with mental health issue...whether youths are responsive to seeing a psychologist. Detection of signs, but not clear what to do. For serious ones, can refer if in court order. after release, not keep up with appointments?

Possible Solutions

equipping youth workers with mental health knowledge.

Need for positive family support and parenting

Not much supervision at home. Captures latchkey to dysfunctional families. Just knowing where your kids are day to day, the higher risk families do not know. Very little involvement in their schooling, eg when their examsa re, whether they do their homework, who their friends are.

Low-income families, both parents spend their whole time working, or someone incarcerated. Blended families and single parent families...but typically lower income as well. Maybe even four room. rarely five room flat dwellers will have these issues. Blended family - problem because of previous problems, eg biological parents incarcerated. typically a host of problems. when marriage breaks down, whether rich or poor, it affects the child. But doubly hard if you are from low-income family. eg remarry because of incarceration. sometimes have live in boyfrineds or grilfriends. unstable family context for child.

Existing Resources

MSF's FamilyMatters!@School equips parents and young adults with skills to nurture positive family relationships. We work closely with schools, parent support groups and parent volunteers so that parents can easily get access to family life programmes that help them better connect with their children (MSF website)

BeaconWorks Programme for parents and children experiencing strained relationships, as alternative to avoid filing a Beyond Parental Control Order (NYGR)

Youths-Hanging-Out-Late letters notifying parents, by the Singapore Police Force (NYGR)

Some of the diversionary program - parent is mandated to attend parental workshops. A lot depend on openness of parent. Ability to apply in real world context...other stresses, eg financial and employment.

Kidstart program (MSF)

[a study to show that most youths in hostels have troubled families...parenting tends to be root of a child's problems...need to rehabilitate parents as well as youth]

Gaps and Their Causes

Those parents that turn up for MSF programs are not those who need it most

Such families are picked up by FSCs, but unclear if the youths receive some support. Possibly lack of cooridnation or integrtaion with FSC and SCS an isisue.

Dual-income families, parents lack time to spend with children

Parents not equipped with the skills and resources to raise children well

Cyber risk - children are exposed to the internet at a young age, insufficiently equipped to discern online content

Possible Solutions

Need to complete education

[complete or thrive?][Whatever path they take, they need to feel proud of it, positive in life]

Youth workers have said keeping troubled youth engaged in school remains a worrying issue because of social problems such as broken families and Internet addiction.(Today 17 Feb 2015)

MOE statistics show that less than 1 per cent of each Primary One cohort in the last five years has failed to complete secondary school. -ITE does not share drop-out rates. But can make estimate.

-Anecdotal: At very minimum must complete their school. Bonus if they do well. The longer they stay in school, the better. More sheltered environment than if they go out to work. then less likely to progress up in career. in other countries, less of a paper chase (SCS).

Existing Resources

MSF's Enhanced STEP-UP [4]

MOE's School Social Work - known as student welfare officers, they will help facilitate the use of community resources to provide holistic support for students and their families. Example, in certain cases, such as marital discord, the complex and difficult family circumstances of some students go beyond what the form teachers and school counsellor can typically advise or handle. As a representative from the school, student welfare officers sometimes find that the students’ families are more responsive and cooperative as we work together on the common goal to maximise the child’s potential(Today 17 Feb 2015)

-NCSS doing something also (to check)

Students Care Service Scholarships and Bursaries

Gaps and Their Causes

If intervention only comes in at the Enhances Step-up pahse, the success will not be very high. more early intevrnetion or developmental work. Not easy for agencies after referral, the youth already not going to school...really tough work.

On School Social Work - students may be more comfortable sharing their feelings with youth workers who are not part of the school (Palvindran Jayram, an acting team leader with the Lutheran Community Care Services) (Today 17 Feb 2015)

In 2012, a National Institute of Education study involving 3,000 youth revealed that youth gamers spent about 20 hours a week on gaming and about 10 per cent of them displayed symptoms of obsessive video gaming.(Today 17 Feb 2015)

-Anecdotal, SCS: ITE students don't stay in school because they are working part time, they have financial needs, may be form single parent families. they work to earn the pocket money that they need. Some find ITE work tough. Higher NITEC more theoretical, so harder to cope. even if have tuition, wont be able to afford it. Also get into a course they may not like, even ITE has grades requirements. Dumping ground is facilities management, or megatronics. F&B are popular. kids enjoy hands on. Girls like beauty and hair, but hard to get in. Accounting and nursing not easy to get in, more financial support for nursing. Check educational stats digest by MOE.

Enhanced step up and school social work also just part of the parcel. focus is on youth. but need focus on family. check literature on school drop outs. in US, predictors could be like retain many times. or parental education, SES etc. so these are very hard for VWO to intervene, how to intervene if parents low income and don't value education.

"When they intervene, it is mainly psycho-social because they cannot intervene in the structure" while psycho-social factors is one thing, low self esteem, low motivation. But if you look at the Maslow hierarchy, if basic needs are not met, can't intervene at one level up. (SCS: Liz)

Possible Solutions

Pay the parents to send the kids to school. Some developing country tried this.

Need to be meaningfully engaged and supervised for social and moral development

[meaningfully engaged different from social and moral development...might be two separate need statements; should we include 'moral' in the statement] [possible specify and clarify the areas within this need, eg need to be connected to prosocial peer groups]

[ADD A POSITIVE PEER INFLUENCE OR PEER GROUP OR BELONGING] -programs to help them mingle or get to know

-Latchkey kids who have nothing constructive to do.

-Need to focus on emerging issues: sexual grooming, virtual marriages and sexting; is too much cosplay or virtual reality a concern? [How can youth workers keep updated on these trends, which are changing very fast?]

Existing Resources

Students Care Centres (SCCs) that are licensed and regulated by MSF, for school-going children aged 7-14 (promary 1 to secondary 2).

MSF's Youth GO! Programme (YGP) - a youth outreach programme which is modelled after well-established street outreach services overseas such as Hong Kong's. Care Corner appointed for the North East and Fei Yue for the North West and South West districts respectively.[5]

Gaps and Their Causes

Youth workers do not do very much at the drop in centres. kids who like to do homework. Should run it, becuase where else will they go? So if they hav CCAs, they dont need to come. The kids that nobody wants. Or the kids who end up in CCAs that they dont like. CCAs have entry requirments. eg auditions, sports. uniform groups are dumping ground, or AV club will absorb. community service clubs, different shcools have different niche. Drop in centres design based on needs of youths? Structured programme, eg monday is football, tuesday is...based on interest of the workers, eg if they like baking. In the holidays, the drop in centres, there are more activities.

Possible Solutions

Improve CCA absorptive capacity?

use youths at drop in centres to update youth agencies on youth trends

Need for youth workers to be adequately equipped to engage youths

[ADD CAPABILITY BUILDING NEED: need funding and resources for upstream work for VWOs]

Existing Resources

Development framework for Youth Workers (DYW) by CYGO

Social Media Resource Kit by CYGO

Students Care Service training & consultancy; guides -most are supervision services, for agencies who dont have enough supervision. for clinical social work supervision. if have crisis or suicide case, what protocol. the places that buy supervisioon are those that work with youth.

SSI has lots of training for youth workers

Youth workers skills need to change as youth's needs are changing. but skills not particularly lakcing, eg outreach...lacking resources but not skills. being updated with youth trends. be ahead of what youth are interested in. if just go down to schools to engage youths, developemntal or preventive programs dont need, but have social workers have oversight for higher risk cases or remedial cases.

only VWOs have access to schools, not informal groups eg church.

Gaps and Their Causes

-Peace's study: whether there is enough supervision for social workers for youth. lack of quality supervision for social worker may lead to retention issues.

-a lot of learning on the job, from peers, and learning from the youths...hearing from the youths themselves, on how they would like to be engaged.

-useful to understand the developmental stages of youth, eg psychological background. Others may not have that knowledge but enagge with them well.

Possible Solutions

-sahring program, get youths to give intel on how to engage youth.

Need for holistic information on youth at risk

Existing Resources

Youth information System (YIS) shares information on Singapore's youth-at-risk among MOE, MHA and MSF (YIS.)

Gaps and Their Causes

ESU meets ESU, YARE meets YARE...but not all agencies run these programs. CYGO only gather for specific purposes, eg metoring initiatve.

Resource gap: E.g. Boystown staff drive a van to pick up delinquents who stay out late. but no everyone can do that. they go to hotpots for youth and pick them up. resources to reach out to the streets are lacking...but the instituinalised resources. ESU B is outreach, so hard to do. outreach work for higher risk youth hard to do, not low risk ones, easy to do.

Home visits, knocking on doors for hard to reach youths. with no clear sense of success. hard to convince people to pay for it.

as they long as they stay in school, easy to find the, if drop out, hard to find them. But need to engage them in school. a lot of programmes focus on bonding with classmates and peers. friendship and peer culture, fit in.

Possible Solutions

Resource Directory

Landscape of Youth At Risk Services See CYGO Slide no. 10 for Landscape of Services

About 10 key organisations here will take over the state's existing programmes to guide and rehabilitate young people under 21 who get into trouble. main youth programmes to be centralised through these organisations - called Integrated Service Providers (ISPs) hopefully making the quality consistent. The three programmes the ISPs will run are "Guidance", "Enhanced Step-Up", and "Triage". They are currently run by charities and youth organisations that target teens who have committed petty offences for the first time, those who have dropped out of school and young offenders. (ST 14 Nov 2016)

ISP Programmes ST 16 Nov 2016 • The Triage which stations social workers at police division headquarters to assess the risks and needs of youth offenders. Social workers located at police stations to decide if need GPs.

• The Guidance Programme to divert first-time offenders who have committed minor offences from the court system and towards counselling and rehabilitation.

• The Enhanced Step-Up programme which works with those likely to drop out of school.


National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation


Chairman - Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee (ST 4 Nov 2015)

Whole-of-Government committee on youth delinquency and crime. It has representation from agencies with a stake in reducing youth delinquency: Education, community and social services, health, police, prisons, Central Narcotics Branch, National Youth Council, Attorney-General, the Courts. There are also representatives also from the academia and ethnic self-help groups. Set up in 1995 to coordinate efforts between government agencies, the courts and community groups to reduce juvenile delinquency.

Central Youth Guidance Office


Executive arm and Secretariat of the National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation (NYGR). Sets policies and strategies across the entire (youth) offending spectrum.

Youth GO! Programme [6] by MSF

National Youth Council


Fei Yue

Beyond Social Services

Voluntary Children Homes

There are 19 of them.


ask trybe to refer.

ADD Malay agencies

check self help groups, jamiyah home

Lakeside FSC

-strong children and youth programme, youth wing -ACE football -repurtation for youth work


youth work

Beautiful People

Beautiful People began as a mentorship programme for at-risk teenage girls under Beyond Social Services, an organisation that works with disadvantaged youth. now supports 100 girls and women each year through their programmes, up from around 10 a year when it first started in 2006.founder, Ms Melissa Kwee Free for Good, a programme that helps female inmates reintegrate into society upon their release. Heroes' Journey, a mentorship programme for teenage boys, its first for males. Mentorship programmes for teenagers run officially for a year at Beautiful People's partner homes such as Gracehaven and Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls. ST 26 May 2016 [7]

Boys' Town

Executive Director - Irene Loi

"Boys' Town will not be tendering to be an ISP, as it prefers to retain its niche of reaching out to young people in the streets."We prefer to focus on what we have been doing all along," (Irene Loi, in ST 14 Nov 2016)

Youthreach - remind Trybe to link up

Care Corner


Crossroad youth centre and teck ghee youth centre - trybe can refer.

Children-At-Risk Empowerment (Care) Association

Executive Director - Dr John Tan Care Singapore


Reach Youth (Reach Youth site) by Reach Community Services Society (Reach corporate site)

Life coaching, counseling, sports, tuition, bursary.

Singapore Children's Society

Students Care Service

Integrated Service Provider

School based social work, centre-based and community-based services.

For Primary & Secondary Schools: -School Social Work for Youth & Children (SYNC) -The Scaffold Programme (TSP) -Youth Community on Patrol (COP) -After School Engagement Programmes (ASE) -Enhanced Step-Up -Training & Consultation for Teachers & Parents

For ITE Colleges: -Strengths & Spurs -Buddy ‘IN (for ITE Colleges & Special Education Schools)

3 Centres: Clementi, Hougang & Yishun. Educational Psychology Assessment Training & Research arm are in Tiong Bahru.

-NT & NA - academically under-performing -Guidance Program - diversionary program, 6 months. if not breach them, then they go to court. MSF protocol. first time offenders. -school identify them as low attendance rate, behavioral problems. go counselling or engage to run group work sessions. (usually for NT & NA) -Youth COP has mixed needs, modelling. cannot run a program that is all high risk. also run problem of puttin bad eggs together. -Drop-in centres: Clementi & Hougang, or in school. social worker there. community youths - from neighborhood schools. no positive activities to engage in after school. -true football. -those in school who have higher count of detention, versus just nothing to do. -Students Care Service also runs educational psychology program for youths, use pre-post test. mainly for learning difficulties. sometimes anxiety-related disorders, e.g. selective mutism, where psychologist will do intervention.


TOUCH Youth is a division of Touch Community Services


Children and Young Persons Homes

There are 21 Children and Young Persons Homes providing residential care programmes for those from dysfunctional families and in need of shelter; abused or neglected; in need of care and protection; beyond parental control; and in conflict with the Law. ([8] MSF website)

Policy Network

Organisations and individuals are welcome to contribute and participate in the Youth At Risk Network. Please contact if you would like to be part of this network.

List of organisations in the network

[ADD A RESEARCH SECTION] [ADD a set of questions before hand...then VWOs can prpare]