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'Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness': Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – A society-wide effort is needed to prevent tragic incidents like the killing of a River Valley High School student from happening again, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (July 27).

He highlighted the need for a community safety net for everyone – especially young people – and encouraged people to look within their social circles for a start.

“Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness,” said Mr Chan as he appealed to the public to not stigmatise those who come forward to seek help – be they students, staff, parents or families.

“Let this incident motivate all of us to take down our barriers and treat struggling individuals who step forward with care and compassion,” he told the House.

The minister called on families to spend more time listening to the thoughts and feelings of their children, letting them share what they find stressful and giving them space to process their emotions.

Sharing his own experience as a parent, Mr Chan said: “We can have more frank conversations with our children and families on the definition of success.

“As a parent myself, I have come to realise that success must be defined by helping my children realise their own potential, developing their own strengths and helping them to be confident with themselves.”

“Success cannot, should not and must not be the constant need to be compared with someone else and having to live up to somebody else’s image,” he added.

The greatest assurance parents can give their children is to give them the confidence to find their own way, he said.

Mr Chan also called on the public to break “vicious cycles of negativity” by standing up for others and responding with grace and compassion.

He said: “We can stop toxic conversations online, and amplify messages of strength, care and positivity through our online networks instead.

“All of us can be kind to each other, and look out for one another, no matter how tough the competition might be or how intense the pressure might be”.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will strengthen partnership with parents through parent support groups, he said,adding sub-groups can be formed within such groups to focus on the mental well-being of children and families.

Meanwhile, MOE will continue to provide support to the school community, including the affected families, while monitoring the well-being of students from other schools.

He added that the Health Ministry and Ministry of Social and Family Development have set up an interagency task force to develop an overarching plan to address mental health and well-being.

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