Aidan (not his real name) never felt that he belonged.
His parents would often compare him to his siblings, making him feel that he was the “black sheep” of his family.
Aidan began to neglect his studies and, rather than return home after school, started hanging out late with his friends. This further strained his relationship with his parents, and there was a real risk that he’d fall into delinquency.
But in 2016, Aidan was introduced to Youth Community Outreach Patrol (COP)
, a youth development programme by SHINE Children and Youth Services
. Initially wary, he slowly opened up to the SHINE team and began attending Youth COP sessions, many of which were supported and organised by Clementi Neighbourhood Police Centre
Pledge for change: At a Youth COP appointment ceremony in March 2019. PHOTOS: SPF
Aidan’s relationship with his parents improved, and they noticed a positive change in him as he began to actively contribute to the community through Youth COP's outreach activities after school hours.
That same year, Aidan and his fellow students took part in a Youth COP appointment ceremony at their secondary school where they were recognised for their efforts. Aidan’s parents also attended the ceremony and watched as he took the stage to receive an award for his exemplary performance.
“Later, Aidan’s parents shared with me that they were happy he was being recognised in school for his contributions,” recalled Jason Tan, the Programme Head for Youth COP.
Working Together to Help Youths
On target: Jason Tan (left) and his team members at Youth COP. PHOTO: SHINE
Established in 2007, Youth COP is a collaboration between SHINE Children and Youth Services, the Singapore Police Force
(SPF) and secondary schools to develop youth leaders and help reduce youth crime rates. “Our goal is to help youths develop essential life skills and a positive sense of identity, and to become crime prevention leaders who serve, protect and care for the community,” said Jason.
Reaching out to the community: Youth COP members partner with Police officers during house visits, joint patrols and engagement sessions to share crime prevention advisories. PHOTOS: SPF
As part of their duties, Youth COP members go on house visits and joint patrols with Police officers in their neighbourhood, engaging members of the public and sharing crime prevention messages. SHINE’s partnership with SPF and schools has grown over the years; having started with 24 members in 2007, Youth COP now has at least 300 members in secondary schools and communities across Singapore.
As a member of Clementi NPC’s Community Policing Unit, SI Faeez regularly engages with Youth COP members on a range of community-focused activities. PHOTO: Shafiq Guee
Among the dedicated Police officers who collaborate with SHINE on the Youth COP programme is Station Inspector (SI) Muhd Faeez of Clementi NPC. Having joined SPF in 2009, he’s been a member of Clementi NPC’s Community Policing Unit for seven years.
Youth COP members learn crime prevention messages through their engagements with Police officers. PHOTO: SPF
“We understand that some youths can turn to bad company because they want a sense of direction in their lives,” said SI Faeez. “It’s important to reach out to these youths because they are at an age when they are more receptive to influences. As Police officers, we can play a ‘big brother' or ‘big sister’ role, offering them positive models to follow, as well as guidance and mentorship.”
Zoom chat: Youth COP leaders catching up with SI Faeez in July 2020, following the Circuit Breaker. These students created a scam awareness skit video that was shared on social media. PHOTO: Youth COP FB
During house visits and joint patrols, Youth COP members will share with members of the public about how to detect and deter crimes common such as bicycle theft, shop theft and online scams. “Through these sessions, the youths learn about contributing to the community and how crime can be prevented, becoming our ambassadors,” said SI Faeez. “Now, instead of being influenced by bad company, they serve as positive role models within their own cliques and social circles.”
Somebody to Turn To
SHINE now collaborates with three NPCs – Clementi, Bukit Merah East
– on a range of projects and engagement activities to meet the needs of youths in the community. “Each NPC brings a different type of ‘energy’ to Youth COP,” said Jason Tan of SHINE. “For example, with Clementi NPC, Youth COP engagements are often very personal and communal, while Bukit Merah East NPC – because it covers Chinatown – allows Youth COP members in that area to take part in larger-scale public events.”
According to Jason, SPF’s partnership has been vital to helping Youth COP members develop their potential and choose the right path in life. That’s especially crucial given the uncertainties youths can face.
Working to help youths choose the right path. PHOTOS: SPF
“We’ve seen how the situation for some youths can change quickly,” said Jason. “In one case, a youth had a family member who passed away, and this made him stay away from school, to help out at home. Soon, he lost the motivation to study, and began displaying other behaviours related to delinquency. That’s why we need to be alert and responsive as we journey with youths, so that they have somebody to turn to and gain the support and guidance they need.”
Saluting Our Community Partners
At this year’s Public Sector Transformation Awards
, SHINE Children and Youth Services received the Star Partner Award for its exemplary efforts in reaching out to and supporting youths. “This is the first time that SHINE has won such an award, and it’s a huge encouragement to the team,” said Jason. “This award affirms how the partnership between SHINE, SPF and the schools has made Youth COP an effective programme that addresses the needs of youths.”
SHINE collaborates with three NPCs to meet the needs of youths in the community. PHOTOS: Shafiq Guee
This sentiment was echoed by SI Faeez: “Helping these youths requires a holistic approach. As Police officers, we can be good role models for Youth COP members within the community, while SHINE and their own families offer them support at home. The important thing about our collaboration is to help youths change for the better, and for that, I'm glad to be working with SHINE!”
Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020
The Public Sector Transformation Awards recognise public officers and agencies for excellence in their work and organisational practices. This year’s Awards Reception was held virtually on 21 October, and 80 recipients in various categories were recognised for their contributions and service.
All together now: Youth COP members at an engagement session in Clementi in December 2019. PHOTO: SPF
SHINE Youth and Community Services is the recipient of the Star Partner Award
at this year’s Public Sector Transformation Awards. Congratulations to SHINE, and to our Award recipients from the Home Team!