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HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

Passage 1
1. What three different reasons does the writer give in the last three sentences of Paragraph 1
to support his case that children need to be given legal rights? Use your own words as far as

unconscionable Legal rights for children will help eliminate/end
grossly unacceptable / heartless, unfair treatment
by adults
particularly vulnerable group
Children are most specifically easily hurt /harmed
abuse can be effectively deterred.
Only legal rights can successfully prevent further
mistreatment of children
(All three reasons given and paraphrased - 2m
Only two reasons are paraphrased well 1 m
Only one reason is paraphrased well no marks)

2. In building this mythic walled garden around childhood (line 19). Comment on the
appropriateness of the image in italics. Use your own words as far as possible.
Answer to be inferred

A walled garden conjures the image of a mini
paradise that is hidden and protected from
human trampling/destruction. (1 m)
It is an apt/suitable image of childhood which is
similarly seen as a vulnerable /innocent period
that needs to be shielded from the problems of
the adult world. (1 m)

3. In paragraph 5, the writer gives four objections that different groups have made to the idea of
giving children legal rights. Explain the possible reasoning behind any two of these objections
using your own words as far as possible.
Religious groups condemn the notion as Religious organizations might consider the idea
blasphemous/wrong as it goes against received
doctrines/dogmas/prescriptions where children
are depicted as completely subject to parental
authority/told to never to defy/disobey their
parents (instead of challenging them).
employers complain that it would be Employers fear the possibility of having to bear
with higher costs of operations / hiring only adults
economically injurious
(and hence losing profit) if children are forbidden
by law from working for lower wages
parents perceive the proposal as downright Parents are concerned that their authority over
their children will be diminished/ they could be
bullied/harassed/harangued by their children
who might hold the threat of legal prosecution

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme


over them/they will not be able to discipline their
children and their authority will be challenged.

human rights proponents cynically observe Advocates of human rights

that it would be merely a cosmetic proposal to accord childrens
superficial/token gesture as
virtually impossible would be
(any two explanations to be awarded 1 mark each)

see the whole

rights as just a
they would be
hard to properly

4. Why do some people believe that it is not necessary to give children legal rights and why
does the writer disagree with them? Use material from paragraphs 2-4 only. Write your
summary in no more than 130 words, not counting the opening words provided below. Use
your own words as far as possible.
Some people argue that it is not necessary to give children rights because.

Why some people believe that it is not necessary to give children legal rights

who view childhood through rose-tinted Childhood is viewed (naively) as an idyllic/

spectacles, seeing it as a golden age trouble-free/carefree/blissful period
synonymous with joyful innocence
during which we enjoy uninhibited
freedom and experience unlimited play

spared the rigours of adult lifewe are unburdened

released from the responsibilities and duties/problems/challenges of adults (accept
adversities of adult life in childhood,

so there should be no necessity to think Hence legal rights only

in terms of statutory rights a concept required for older persons.
which we assume is reserved for adults

inherent According children rights would undermine
fundamental/intrinsic/basic parental duties.
responsibilities of parenthood.

and Because parents naturally/automatically
spontaneously provide the love and
care children need, so that the case for protect/nurture/show affection for
children's rights becomes superfluous.
their young,



rights are unnecessary.

Why the writer disagrees with them
such claims idealise and distort the However, people romanticise/paint an idyllic
adult-child relationship, ill-reflecting picture of and
the lives of many of today's young misrepresent/ have a

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme


false/misguided/misinformed perception of
the reality children experience.

unquestioning acceptance of the To blindly/unthinkingly

traditional family roles of adult
custodianship (i.e. dominance) and believe that adults have total authority over
child dependence (i.e. subservience)
their submissive charges (a master/servant

is a false stereotype that serves to validates/sanctions/condones

legitimise social attitudes that tolerate
(to manage/control
the use of force in disciplining corporal punishment
children for their own good

because those who lack rights are like Rights
slaves, means to the ends of others, independence/autonomy
and never sovereigns of their own
instead of subservience.


Even if one concedes that children are in As
some way different from adults because vulnerable/financially reliant/unable to earn a
they are economically dependent,


it can be argued that it is precisely it is even more important to safeguard their

because of this difference that they well-being.
deserve indeed require to be
accorded rights, so that their welfare
can be duly protected.
to empower them as autonomous Rights give children the authority/ability
agents of their own lives
to decide how they want to live/be
independent decision-makers/control their




In the developed world in particular,

children today grow up at meteoric
they are becoming streetwise much


develop/mature much more rapidly/quickly
Becoming worldly-wise /acquiring


Indeed, many teenagers today reach Both intellectually

levels of cognitive


and moral maturity






HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

17 that give them the capacity to be less
18 and more self-disciplined than some

Making them less dependent


Rights create/establish

ensures that the parental power to

dictate yields to the child's right to
make his own decisions, so that a
more equitable and democratic parentchild relationship can rightfully be

And more self-controlled/ have stronger

willpower than their elders

parity and mutual respect/an egalitarian

between parent and child.

Sample Answer:
Some people argue that it is not necessary to give children rights because
childhood is viewed as an idyllic period unburdened by adult duties, hence legal rights only
apply to older persons. According children rights would undermine fundamental parental duties.
Because parents naturally nurture their young, rights are unnecessary. However, people
romanticise and misrepresent the reality children experience. To blindly believe that adults have
total authority over their submissive charges condones corporal punishment. Rights make
children independent instead of subservient. As children are financially vulnerable, it is even
more important to safeguard their well-being. Rights give children the authority to control their
lives. In affluent nations, young people mature more rapidly, becoming more worldly-wise both
intellectually and ethically, making them less dependent and more self-controlled. Rights
establish egalitarian relationships between children and parents.
(120 words)
Passage 2
5. What do the two metaphors in the last sentence of Paragraph 1 have in common? [1]
rend our social fabric
The two metaphors employ the same image
rot the moral fibre of our youth.
that of a piece of cloth which is being damaged
in some way (one being torn/ripped, the other
subject to decay/deterioration). OR
structure/parallel construction employing the
same syntax and verbal patterns in both
(1 mark for either of the above points, though the first answer is the stronger, more appropriate
6. make reasoned and reasonable decisions (line 13). Explain the distinction between the
two words in italics. Use your own words as far as possible.


reasoned means that decisions have been
made on the basis of sound, rational, logical
thinking/judgement (1)
reasonable refers to the consideration of
what is sensible/equitable/just/fair-minded (1)

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

7. In Paragraph 2, why does the writer think that children would be unable to exercise their
rights in a responsible manner?
the egocentric world of the average child
where impulsive self-gratification and
petulant attention seeking often eclipse
all other considerations

This is because the typical child is selfish/ only
concerned about his own needs /interests (1/2
m) which the child rashly wants to indulge in /
fulfil (1/2 m). In addition, the bad-tempered /
spoilt behavior (1/2 m) of most children often
blind them to other issues/concerns/ peoples
situations/feelings (1/2 m)

8. Heaven forbid that young people should do what they are told! (lines 42-43). What is the
tone of the writer here and why does he adopt it?

The writer is being facetious/sarcastic/ironic,
expressing mock horror / feigned shock/
incredulity (allow either) (1/2 m)
to signal her dismay/how appalled she is by
the fact that things have come to such a
pass/we have lost our moral bearings and the
world has gone mad! Obviously and
unquestionably, young people should be
automatically expected to obey authority
figures like parents, teachers and the
government, not the opposite. (1/2 m)

9. What reasons does the writer give in Paragraph 5 to support his claim that giving children
legal rights would do more harm than good? Use your own words as far as possible. [2]
undermine what constitutes the family as
association it is

More harm will be inflicted as asserting
childrens rights will only subvert the
foundation of the family unit, which is a
unique/special social unit.

what is needed is a reliance on the

individuals bound together have
instinctively and spontaneously
externally imposed justice, should
prevail in a harmonious home erode
the natural affections and attitudes
I mark each for each point.

If there is emphasis on legally enforced rights

instead of feelings of affection and care, then
there will be conflict instead of peace within a
family. This will strain/gradually wear
love/compassion that family members ought to

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

10. Vocabulary
(Passage 1, line 6)
(Passage 1, line 41)
(Passage 2, line 5)
(Passage 2, line 8)
(Passage 2, line 34)

1 mark
uncouth and aggressive;
rough and vulgar; boorish
ridiculous; outrageous

frequently occurring


0 mark
plentiful, abundant
tame; soft-spoken;
gentle; meek



HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

11. With which writers views are you most in sympathy and why? Discuss the relevance of this debate to your own
society. Refer to relevant material from both passages as well as your own opinions and experiences to justify your points.
Students should understand that the debate is about whether childrens rights should be legalised/codified, and NOT whether
children do/dont have rights, if they do not wish to end up trapped in a maelstrom of misguided evaluation.
Both writers approach the issue from polar opposites Freeman looks to codifying rights as the primary means to protect vulnerable
children (mostly in the LDCs) from abuse, as well as a way to recognise the agency and autonomy of more mature children.
Archard, on the other hand, contemplates the possibility of such rights being abused by children in developed, affluent societies and
how the utilitarianism of codifying rights can actually be counterproductive to family bonds.
No one writer is entirely wrong, but both are extreme in their own ways: not all children suffer exploitation and abuse, and not all
children abuse their rights; both writers need to acknowledge the validity of the other position.
While it is more difficult for students to sympathise with Freeman in light of the fact that the situation he depicts is not the reality for
most children in Singapore, he does present his points in more measured tones than Archard, who paints an exaggerated and
extreme picture of children as miscreants who do not have the capacity for mature thought. Archard reinforces his extreme position
with many scaremongering tactics and use of emotive language appealing to readers emotions (primarily the fear of a world ravaged
by hordes of ill-behaved children descending on adult serenity and tranquility).
Students may agree with Freeman that childrens rights should be legalised on account of the exploitation and abuse they suffer (in
both developing and developed nations), as well as his assessment that modern society should revise their traditional ideas about
children as completely helpless minors to be seen and not heard.
However, students can also agree that Archards portrayal of the situation of children is more reflective of what is happening in
Singapore, with more children willing to challenge parental authority and demanding that their needs and concerns be addressed.
Consequently, they may agree with him that the idea of codifying childrens rights goes against commonsense because they could
condone childrens bad behaviour, and approve of his family-centric strategy in managing childrens behaviour.
Ultimately, students should recognise that a moderate approach is best. It is all about how we can best care for our children.
Relevance to Singapore:
Singapore acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995. She submitted her Initial Report on
the implementation of the CRC to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in November 2002. She submitted her Second
and Third Periodic Report in January 2009.

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

There is low awareness of this debate in Singapore society, perhaps primarily because instances of child abuse and
exploitation are few, and our laws (primarily the Children and Young Persons Act) are robust in protecting children, more so
after we acceded to the Convention.

According to the Second and Third Periodic Report, in Singapore, government policies relating to children are based on the
key principles of child-centricity, integration, early intervention, specialised help for vulnerable groups and a shared sense of
responsibility amongst Government, community and individuals in realising the needs of children. Thus, it can be argued that
Singapore takes a moderate and balanced approach towards protecting children and recognising the primary role of parents
in securing their childrens welfare.

Ideas from Freeman:

it is only through prosecution and Agree:
punishment that future abuse can Reasonable argument: if laws in society cannot act as effective deterrents, why do we
continue to have them?
be effectively deterred.
Use of only is absolute. Are legal rights really the only way to deter abuse? What about
areas of abuse where legal rights cannot reach; eg. the fast food industrys child marketing
Freeman fails to recognise that preventive measures can just as effectively deter future
abuse, and we should not seek first recourse through law.
Relevance to Singapore:
For example, in addressing the 34th Session of the Committee on the CRC, MOS Chan Soo
Sen claimed that Singapores significant progress to further the well-being of our children
was made not because of any international laws, but because ours is a society which loves
and values children.
such claims idealise and distort Agree:
the adult-child relationship, ill- According to information provided on the PBS documentary series Frontline website in an
reflecting the lives of many of episode detailing child abuse in foster care, in 2000, approximately 2.8 million reports of
abuse and neglect were reported to child welfare agencies nationwide.
today's young people.
According to US advocacy group Childrens Rights, there were 3.3 million reports of child
abuse and neglect in the United States involving 6 million children. More than 900,000

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme


children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. The national rate of child fatalities rose
steadily from 1999 to 2006, from 1.62/100,000 to 2.04/100,000.
The Guardian (10 Aug) reports that in 2008, almost 500 children were abducted from Britain
and taken abroad, with Pakistan as a hotspot destination.
New Zealands 2007 anti-smacking law was promulgated to curb its high rate of child
abuse (AP). According to a 2003 UNICEF report, she has the fifth-highest rate of child
deaths among the OECD countries.
Relevance to Singapore:
Even though cases of child abuse in Singapore are few, there is still cause of concern
because of the increasing trend of child-related violence. The same MCYS report notes that
sexual abuse figures have increased gradually over the years, making up 29% of the total
number of cases. Cases of emotional abuse also showed an increase from 1 in 2000 to 11
in 2004, accounting for 5% of the total number of cases.
It is common to read in The Straits Times that Singaporean children suffer from stress due
to their parents unreasonable expectations. This is arguably a form of abuse which
legally prescribed rights may be able to address.
Relevance to Singapore:
The lives of the majority of Singaporean children are arguably care-free and harrowing
incidences of poverty, disease and abuse are absent. Children only have to worry about
excelling in their studies and fulfilling (sometimes unrealistic) parental expectations.

Relevance to Singapore:
According to the October 2005 MCYS Report Protecting Children in Singapore, actual
cases of child abuse (with evidence of abuse/neglect) increased from 61 in 2000 to 90 in
2004, averaging about 79 cases yearly, showing that child abuse cases in Singapore
remain relatively low.
unquestioning acceptance of the Agree:
traditional family roles of adult We acknowledge the Judeo-Christian and Confucianist beliefs that children must obey their
child parents.

HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

dependence (i.e. subservience)

Relevance to Singapore:
According to the Oct 2005 MCYS Report Protecting Children in Singapore, 54% of
perpetrators in child abuse cases were biological parents.
One wonders whether, despite economic progress, our conservative Asian society has yet
to fully recognise childrens freedoms to express themselves, their desires and choices etc.
is a false stereotype that serves to Agree:
legitimise social attitudes that New Zealands anti-smacking law suggests that she, too, is aware of the need to protect
tolerate the use of force in children from abuse resulting from misguided attempts to discipline.
disciplining children for their own
Relevance to Singapore:
In Singapore, we have embraced the progressive idea of discipline with care; Restorative
Practices and counseling are preferred to the rod.
Relevance to Singapore:
In Singapore schools, caning is still on the books for serious offences, which implies that
there is still a need for authority figures to be able to turn to stringent punishments to ensure
order and a conducive learning environment.
those who lack rights are like Agree:
We cannot deny the historical veracity of infantalising our inferiors such as women and
Scaremongering: choosing the most extreme example of slaves to make his point.
it is precisely because of this Agree:
difference that [children] deserve If the focus in on protecting children who are exploited and abused, then this argument is
indeed require to be accorded justified.
rights, so that their welfare can be
duly protected.
Children who do not have to contend with exploitation and abuse are already being
protected by their parents natural affections and attitudes. (quoting Archard). We can
agree with Archard that codifying childrens rights runs the risk of undermining the reliance
on the benevolent dispositions that family members bound together instinctively and
spontaneously towards one another.


HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

In the developed world in particular,
children today grow up at meteoric
speedbecoming streetwise much
earlier. [M]any teenagers today
reach levels of cognitive and moral

Relevance to Singapore:
Since becoming a signatory to the Convention, the views of children are being increasingly
sought for decisions that concern them; eg:

[Legal rights] empower [children] as

autonomous agents of their own

student feedback taken into account in any major national educational policy
reform/review; (eg. JC/Upper Sec Review)
In school, there are suggestion schemes, feedback forms/surveys, dialogue sessions
and forums, journal writing lessons, elected student leadership, opportunities to assume
leadership roles in and outside the classroom. Students have been involved in setting
some school rules and designing school uniforms;

The annual Pre-University Seminar has been held since 1970. In 2001, the Deputy PM
hosted a discussion with a group of youths on matters close to their hearts. This
discussion was broadcast over the media. (MCYS, 2004)

A list of legislative provisions ensuring that the views of children and young persons are
heard is seen in.

(i) The right to participation in court proceedings Children and Young Persons Act and
Probation of Offenders Act;
(ii) The right to participation in custody proceedings Womens Charter
(iii) The right to expression of views in relation to abortion - Termination of Pregnancy Act;
(iv) The right to expression of views in relation to sexual sterilisation Voluntary Sterilisation
that give them the capacity to be Disagree:
less reliant and more self-disciplined Freeman fails to recognise that the Convention acknowledges that young children may not
than some adults.
have the maturity to make many decisions by themselves and would require parents and
adults who have their interests at heart, to help them to make decisions, or if they are too
young, to make decisions on their behalf.


HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

ensures that the parental power to
dictate yields to the child's right to
make his own decisions, so that a
more equitable and democratic
rightfully be attained.

Freeman also fails to recognise that the Convention (Article 12) also acknowledges that
when children exercise their rights, they are expected to do so within the confines of the
law, and without infringing on the rights of others, including the authority of parents and
other custodians. Childrens rights include responsibility - agree with Archard.
Freeman is misguided to believe that the parent-child relationship can ever be an equitable
one children are after all dependents and parents their custodians.
Relevance to Singapore:
In Singapore, childrens right to have their views taken seriously can be seen in our judicial
procedures. When children testify in court, their testimony is given due weight and they do
so without fear or intimidation, as provided in the Vulnerable Witness Programme. In
adoption and custody disputes, the Family Court takes childrens opinions into
consideration. (MCYS)

prescribing a specified set of
childrens rights [cannot] be ethically
sustained[and]would be merely
a cosmetic exercise.

If humanity is to progress, we have

to acknowledge that to truly protect
children is to protect their rights. We
have to treat them as persons
entitled to equal concern and

Freeman does not address and thus dismisses/disregards the practical concerns of his
opponents, insisting instead that ethical concerns take precedence, which may not be true.
For example, Freeman could have pointed out that even if we codify childrens rights, we
still face practical problems of enforcement.
Freeman confuses arguments against legally prescribing childrens rights with arguments
against acknowledging that children have rights. While it is unethical to deny that children
have rights and accordingly withhold protection of their interests, it is perfectly reasonable
and acceptable to object to a set of legally prescribed rights.
Freeman again narrowly claims that protection is possible only under the law. It may be
possible to demonstrate equal concern and respect for children without couching our
obligations in legal terms.


HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

Ideas from Archard:
The view that unfettered personal
liberty and statutory rights should
take precedence over disciplined
social citizenship is preposterous.

In some American schools (eg Philadelphia) where corporal punishment is banned, some
teachers whose hands are tied feel it is almost impossible for learning to take place as there
are no meaningful sanctions to deter hardened trouble-makers.

Any further emphasis on childrens

rights would merely encourage a
destructive permissiveness that
fabric...[and] rot the moral fibre of
our youth.

Relevance to Singapore:
The fact that parents have recourse to apply for Beyond Parental Control Orders (BPCOs)
under the Children and Young Persons Act is testament to the valid concerns raised by
Archard regarding the bad behavjour of young people today.
Archard exaggerates the situation that would occur if we codify childrens rights in law,
perhaps demonstrating an irrational fear of a state of chaos with no way to control it and the
moral degradation that may ensue.
His assumption that codifying rights in law will automatically lead to their abuse is

Relevance to Singapore:
According to Singapores 2nd and 3rd Periodic Report on the implementation of CRC dated
January 2009, the number of juveniles arrested for Overall Crime showed continual
decreases between 2004 and 2006. From 2003 to 2007, admissions to the MCYS Juvenile
Homes have seen a downward trend.
It is specious to say that children are Disagree:
no different from adults.
Children are of course different from adults in some ways. However, Archard simplistically
assumes that all children are of similar mental age, which disregards the reality that growing
the vast majorityare unable to up is a developmental process. Older children say between 16 to 18 do have some life
form consistent beliefsimmaturity experiences to make mature, sound and responsible judgments regarding their life goals.
and lack of life experiences do not
equip them with the capacity to
make sound judgments.
Regardless of their flawed character, criminals are entitled to legal rights and can exercise
them. In the same way, children need to be protected from abuse and exploitation even if


HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

responsibilitya notion often alien
to the average childimpulsive
attention seeking often eclipse all
other considerations.
adults who are seriously mentally
impaired are also disqualified in the
same way.
Just as no one would give a
mentally ill adult a gun to wield, so
no one should insist that children be
given rights to brandish before their
If specific childrens rights were
meticulously itemised and codified,
litigationmight actually do more
harm than good, traumatising the
child we are trying to protect.
Taking the best interest approach to
the welfare of a child [over and
above, and without regard to, the
interests of any relevant adult] may
also neglect the interests of others.

they are selfish brats. Archard disregards this crucial distinction.

Archard makes a false analogy: mentally impaired adults can never develop the capacity to
make sound judgements, whereas children can do so as they mature and grow and learn
from their experiences.
He compares rights with guns, an analogy which is unfair and negatively connotes that legal
rights are as dangerous as firearms and will automatically be employed antagonistically
against parents.
Already tense family relations (eg. as a result of divorce proceedings) can potentially
become more fractious if we now have to quibble over the minutiae of childrens rights.
Archard does not really provide evidence of how itemising and codifying childrens rights will
traumatise children. He also gives no examples of misguided litigation.
It is reasonable that we have to give due consideration to adult caregivers interests.
The best interest approach may be a questionable approach to adopt since we cannot
strictly define what best interest entail. The phrase is mentioned 7 times in the Convention
but never elaborated upon.

adults should not have to

completely sacrifice their own Disagree:
Another scaremongering tactic: Archard draws on extreme situations to question the
welfare for that of their children.
efficacy of the best interest approach.
[N]ations who commit to legally Disagree:
adhering to the [Convention] will Archard is again extreme giving children legal rights need not most certainly curtail
most certainly need to curtail spending in other crucial areas. Governments can raise more revenue, or reallocate funds
spending in critical areasto fund from non-critical areas. Archards emphasis on critical areas is another attempt at


HCI 2009 JC2 GP Preliminary Examination Comprehension Answer Scheme

the expensive luxury
protection programmes.


child deliberate scaremongering. Note his use of emotive language and contemptuous view of
child protection expensive luxury.

Instead of the incessant clamour for

legal rights, there is a more pressing
need to morally educate and guide
children, a function best fulfilled by

Relevance to Singapore:
In Singapore, there is a indeed a more pressing need for greater parental engagement in
moral education, given that more children are willing to challenge parental authority and
demanding that their needs and concerns be addressed.

Archard sidesteps the issue of why there is a necessity to codify childrens rights; he does
not really consider the very real cases of abused and exploited children who need
protection; he assumes that every child is a spoilt brat that could use a greater dose of
moral suasion or parental guidance.
The [Convention] underminesthe Agree:
family as the distinctive form of Instead of upholding the anti-smacking law to address child abuse in families, many in NZ
(88%) have advocated revoking the law for fear of wrongful prosecution when discharging
human association it is
their parental responsibilities.
[externally imposed justice] will only
erode the natural affections and Laws cannot realise/improve morals, and may actually strain natural familial relations.
attitudes that render the need for
rights unnecessary in the first place. According to the Childrens Ombudsman (2006), although Sweden bans corporal
punishment, many children are still being beaten.
laws will not miraculously reform
neglectful or abusive parents