A 17-YEAR-OLD vandal caught spray-painting graffiti on a canal wall is now a mural artist, painting the walls of a home for the intellectually disabled to atone for his offence.
The teenager spent nine months in the Singapore Boys Hostel. After that, he was put on a years probation, where several restrictions like curfews are imposed and 150 hours of community service. As part of this service, he painted murals at the Metta Home to brighten up the surroundings.
He is one of more than 1,800 youths now on probation, many for shoplifting or peddling illegal VCDs. The youngest is 10 years old.
The Community Development and Sports Ministrys manager of probation services, Sng Yan Ling, said: Probation is a second chance for misguided youths who have made a wrong decision ... and doing community service gives them a chance to repay the community.
Getting them to do something for others began in 1996. Their tasks range from helping out at old folks homes to stacking books in libraries.
Increasingly, said Sng, the ministry was trying to marry this with a training programme for those who were unemployed or out of school.
For example, one group was taught how to repair air-conditioners and sent out to fix those at old folks homes.
A group of 15 girls are undergoing a course on early childhood education. Most in this group were caught shoplifting and some for using drugs.
After probation, their training would open up jobs in childcare centres. One girl has already landed a post as an assistant teacher in a pre-school. The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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