Published: 18 February 2020
Ms Anthea Ong: To ask 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.