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GP Comprehension Paper – Human Rights & Family

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Human Rights & Family

(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the your use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) you must use your own words to express it. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy words or phrases from the GP Comprehension passage.


Passage A:

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 possible. (2)


Legal rights for children will help eliminate / end grossly unacceptable / heartless / unfair treatment by adults

Children are most specifically easily hurt / harmed

Only legal rights can successfully prevent further mistreatment of children


(All three reasons given and paraphrased – 2m)


Lifted from GP Passage Text
eradicate such unconscionable exploitation

particularly vulnerable group

abuse can be effectively deterred.




2. ‘In building this mythic walled garden around childhood’ (line 19). Comment on the appropriateness of the image in italics. Use YOWAFAP. [2]


A ‘walled garden’ conjures the image of a mini paradise that is hidden and protected from human trampling/destruction.

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.



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. UYOWAFAP. [2 marks].


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 fear the possibility of having to bear with higher costs of operations / hiring only adults (and hence losing profit) if children are forbidden by law from working for lower wages.

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

Advocates of human rights see the whole proposal to accord children’s rights as just a superficial / token gesture as they would be virtually impossible would be hard to properly enforce.

(Any two of the four reasons to be awarded 1 mark each)


Religious groups condemn the notion as

employers complain that it would be economically injurious

parents perceive the proposal as downright intimidating

human rights proponents cynically observe that it would be merely a cosmetic exercise



Passage B:

5. What do the two metaphors in the last sentence of Paragraph 1 have in common? [1]


The two metaphors employ the same image – that of a piece of cloth which is being damaged in some way (one being torn / ripped, the other subject to decay / deterioration). OR

Comment on the parallelism / parallel structure / parallel construction employing the same syntax and verbal patterns in both phrases.


rend our social fabric

rot the moral fibre of our youth.



6. ‘… make reasoned and reasonable decisions’ (line 13). Explain the distinction between the two words in italics. UYOWAFAP. (2)


‘reasoned’ means that decisions have been made on the basis of sound, rational, logical thinking / judgement.


‘reasonable’ refers to the consideration of what is sensible / equitable / just / fair-minded.



7. In Paragraph 2, why does the writer think that children would be unable to exercise their rights in a responsible manner?

This is because the typical child is selfish / only concerned about his own needs / interests which the child rashly all wants to indulge in / fulfil.

In addition, the bad-tempered / spoilt behavior of most children often blind them to other issues / concerns / people’s situations / feelings.


..the egocentric world of the average child where impulsive self-gratification and petulant attention seeking often eclipse all other considerations


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? (1)

He is being facetious / sarcastic / ironic, expressing mock horror / feigned shock incredulity, to signal her dismay / how appalled he 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.


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? YOWAFAP. [2]


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

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 away / deteriorate feelings of love / compassion that family members ought to have.


undermine what constitutes the family as the distinctive form of association it is

what is needed is a reliance on the benevolent dispositions that the individuals bound together have – instinctively and spontaneously – towards one another… Love, not externally imposed justice, should prevail in a harmonious home… erode the natural affections and attitudes.



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Human Rights & Family

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passages:
Taking children’s rights more seriously by Michael Freeman
Children: rights and childhood by David Archard




Q10. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)

Word 1 Mark  1/2 Mark
rife (1.6)

rampant; prevalent, widespread


frequently occurring

No mark: plentiful, abundant


docile (1.41) compliant; obedient; submissive

No mark: tame; soft-spoken, gentle; meek


loutish (2.5)

uncouth and aggressive; thuggish; ill-mannered; rough and vulgar; boorish

outwardly rude, unbelievable

No mark: impolite


preposterous (2.8)

absurd; ludicrous; rude ridiculous; outrageous



clamour (2.34) Insistent / vehement and loud / noisy demand / outcry / protest

No mark: request



Reminder: Do not try to give a list (string of answers). Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.



Q7. Summary Question (SQ) (8 marks)

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. UYOWAFAP. [8]


Some people argue that it is not necessary to give children rights because…


Lifted from the GP Text
AIYOW / Re-Expressions

WHY some believe it is NOT necessary to give children legal rights


who view childhood through it as rose-tinted spectacles, seeing it as a golden age synonymous with joyful innocence which we … enjoy uninhibited freedom experience unlimited play

spared the rigours of adult life… we are released from the responsibilities and adversities of adult life in childhood

so there should be no necessity to think in terms of statutory rights – a concept which we assume is reserved for adults


Childhood is viewed (naively) free / carefree / blissful period as an idyllic  / trouble-free

unburdened by the duties / problems / challenges of adults / parents / guardians.

Hence legal rights only apply / are only required for older persons.

would subvert the inherent responsibilities of parenthood.

adults already instinctively and spontaneously provide the love and care children need, so that the case for children’s rights becomes superfluous.


According children rights would undermine  fundamental / intrinsic / basic parental duties.

Because parents naturally / automatically protect / nurture  / show affection for their young, rights are unnecessary.


WHY the writer disagrees


such claims idealise and distort the adult-child relationship, ill-reflecting the lives of many of today’s young people

unquestioning acceptance of the traditional family roles of adult ‘custodianship’ (i.e. dominance) and child ‘dependence’ (i.e. subservience)

is a false stereotype that serves to legitimise social attitudes that tolerate the use of force in disciplining children for their own good

However, people romanticise / paint an idyllic picture of, and

misrepresent / have a false / misguided / misinformed perception of

the reality children experience.

To blindly / unthinkingly believe that adults have total authority over their submissive relationship)

validates / sanctions / condones

corporal punishment (to manage control children)


because those who lack rights are lIke slaves, means to the ends of others and never sovereigns of their own selves

Even if one concedes that children are in some way different from adults because they are economically dependent

it can be argued that it is precisely because of this difference that they deserve – indeed require to be accorded rights, so that their welfare van be duly protected

to empower them as autonomous agents of their own lives

Rights afford children independence / autonomy

instead of subservience.

As children are financially vulnerable / reliant / unable to earn a livelihood.

it is even more important to safeguard their well-being.

Rights give children the authority / ability

to decide how they want to live / be independent decision-makers / control their lives


in the developed world in particular, children today grow up at meteorite speed.

they are becoming streetwise much earlier.

Indeed, many teenagers today reach levels of cognitive

and moral maturity

that give them the capacity to be less reliant

and more self-disciplined than some adults.

…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 parent-child relationship can rightfully be attained.

In affluent nations, youth today develop/mature much more rapidly / quickly

Becoming worldly-wise / acquiring more experience / knowledge / life skills.

Both intellectually

And ethically in terms of their values / standards

Making them less dependent

And more self-controlled / have stronger willpower than their elders

Rights create / establish

parity and mutual respect / an egalitarian relationship

between parent and child.


Note: Time management is important for success in the summary question!
Reminder: it is a good practice to write down the number of words used.



Q11 Application Question [8 marks]

With which writer’s 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 children’s rights should be legalised / codified, and NOT whether children do / don’t have rights, if they do not wish to end up trapped in a maelstrom of misguided evaluation (EV).


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 children’s 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 Archard’s 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 children’s rights goes against commonsense because they could condone children’s bad behaviour, and approve of his family-centric strategy in managing children’s behaviour.

Ultimately, students should recognise that a moderate approach is best. It is all about how we can best care for our children.



Singapore acceded to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995. She submitted her Initial Report on 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


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 among 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 children’s welfare.





Idea #1: it is only through prosecution and punishment that future abuse can be effectively deterred…


AGREE: Reasonable argument: if laws in society cannot act as effective deterrents, why do we continue to have them?


DISAGREE: 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 industry’s child marketing tactics? 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 SG (Disagree): For example, in addressing the 34th Session of the Committee on the CRC, MOS Chan Soo Sen claimed that Singapore’s 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.”


Idea #2: .such claims idealise and distort the adult-child relationship. ill reflecting the lives of many of today’s young people.


AGREE: According to information provided on the PBS documentary series ‘Frontline’ website in an 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.

According to US advocacy groups Children’s Rights, there were 3.3 million reports of child abuse and neglect in the United States involving 6 million children. More than 900,000 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. The national rate of child fatalities rose steadily from 1999 to 2006, from 1.62/100k to 2.04/100k.

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 Zealand’s 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 (Agree): Even though cases of child abuse in S’pore are few, there is still cause of concern because of the increasing trend of child-related violence. The same MCYS report notes that sexual figures increased gradually over the years making 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 local 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 SG (Disagree): 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 SG (Disagree): 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 S’pore remain relatively low.


Idea #3: unquestioning acceptance of the traditional family roles of adult ‘custodianship’ (and child ‘dependence’ (i.e. subservience)…


AGREE: We acknowledge the Judeo-Christian alt and Confucianism beliefs that children ld must obey their parents.


Relevance to Singapore (Agree): 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 children’s freedoms to express themselves, their desires and choices etc.


Idea #4: is a false stereotype that serves to legitimise social attitudes that tolerate the use of force in disciplining children for their own good’.


AGREE: New Zealand ‘anti-smacking’ law suggests that she, too, is aware of the need to protect children from abuse resulting from misguided attempts to discipline.


Relevance to Singapore (Agree): In Singapore, we have embraced the progressive idea of discipline with care; Restorative Practices and counseling are preferred to the rod.

Relevance to SG (Disagree): 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.


Idea #5: those who lack rights are like slaves…


AGREE: We cannot deny the historical veracity of infantilising our inferiors such as women and children.


DISAGREE: Scaremongering: choosing the most extreme example of slaves to make his point.


Idea #6: it is precisely because of this difference that children] deserve – indeed require – to be accorded rights, so that their welfare can be duly protected


AGREE: If the focus in on protecting children who are exploited and abused, then this argument is justified.


DISAGREE: 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 children’s rights runs the risk of “undermining the reliance on the benevolent dispositions that family members bound together instinctively and spontaneously towards one another”.


Idea #7: In the developed world in particular, children today grow up at meteoric speed… becoming streetwise much earlier. [M]any teenagers today reach levels of cognitive and moral maturity…

(Legal rights) empower (children) as autonomous agents of their own lives…


Relevance to SG:(Agree): Since becoming a signatory to the Convention, the views of children are being increasingly sought for decisions that concern them, eg:

i) student feedback taken into account in any major national educational policy reform / review, (eg. JC / Upper Sec Review)

ii) in schools, 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;

iii) 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)

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

(a) The right to participation in court proceedings – Children and Young Persons Act and Probation of Offenders Act;

(b) The right to participation in custody proceedings – Women’s Charter

(c) The right to expression of views in relation to abortion – Termination of Pregnancy Act;

(d) The right to expression of views in relation to sexual sterilisation – Voluntary Sterilisation Act


Idea #8: … that give them the capacity to be less reliant and more self-disciplined than some adults.


DISAGREE: Freeman fails to recognise that the Convention acknowledges that young children may not 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.

Relevance to SG:


Idea #9: … 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 parent-child relationship can rightfully be attained.


DISAGREE: 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. Children’s 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 SG (Disagree): In S’pore, children’s 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 children’s opinions into consideration. (MCYS)


idea #10: Arguments against legally prescribing a specified set of children’s rights (cannot] be ethically sustained… [and]…would be merely a cosmetic exercise.


DISAGREE: 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 children’s rights, we still face practical problems of enforcement.

Freeman confuses arguments against legally prescribing children’s 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, is perfectly reasonable and acceptable to object to a set of legally prescribed rights.


Idea #11: 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 respect.


DISAGREE: 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.








Idea #1: The view that unfettered personal liberty and statutory rights should take precedence over disciplined social citizenship is preposterous.

Any further emphasis on children’s rights would merely encourage a destructive permissiveness that would … rend our social fabric rot the moral fibre of our youth.


AGREE: 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.

Relevance to SG (Agree): 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 behaviour of young people today.


DISAGREE: Archard exaggerates the situation that would occur if we codify children’s 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 erroneous.

Relevance to SG (Disagree): According to Singapore’s 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 MACY’S Juvenile Homes have seen a “downward trend”.


Idea #2: It is specious to say that children are no different from adults.

the vast majority…are unable to form consistent beliefs. Immaturity and lack of life experiences do not equip them with the capacity to make sound judgments

With rights must come responsibility. While normal adults are entitled to their rights, they are equally expected to exercise them judiciously a notion often alien lo the average child where impulsive self-gratification and petulant attention seeking often eclipse all other considerations.


DISAGREE: Children are of course different from adults in some ways. However Archard simplistically assumes that all children are of similar menta age, which disregards the reality that growing up is a developmental process. Older children – say between 16 to 18 – do have some life experiences to make mature, sound and responsible judgment regarding their life goals.

Regardless of their flawed character, criminals are entitled to le rights and can exercise them. In the same way, children need to protected from abuse and exploitation even if they are selfish b Archard disregards this crucial distinction.


Idea #3: 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 parents.


DISAGREE: 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 connoted that legal rights are as dangerous as firearms and will automatically be employed antagonistically against parents.


Idea #4: If specific children’s rights were meticulously itemised and codified, a maelstrom of misguided litigation on actually do more harm than good, traumatising the child we are trying to protect.


AGREE: Already tense family relations (eg. as a result of divorce proceedings) can potentially become more fractious if e we now have to quibble over the minutiae of children’s rights.


DISAGREE: Archard does not really provide evidence of how utilising and codifying children’s rights will traumatise children He also gives no examples of misguided litigation


Idea #5: Taking the best interest approach to the welfare of a child love and above, and without regard to me interests any relevant adult may also neglect the interests of others.

… adults should not have to completely sacrifice their own welfare for that of the Children.


AGREE: 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.


DISAGREE: Another scaremongering tactics Archer draws on extreme situations to question the efficacy of the best interest approach.


Idea #6: Nations to come to legally adhering to the Convention most certainly need to curtail spending in critical areas…to fund the expensive luxury of child protection programmes.


DISAGREE: Archard is again extrema – giving children legal rights need not most certainly curtail spending in her crucial areas. Governments can raise more revenue, or reallocate funds from non-critical are Archard’s emphasis on critical areas is another attempt at delivery scaremongering. Note his use of emotive language and contemptous view of child protection – “expensive luxury”.


Idea #7: 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 parents.


Relevance to SG: (Agree): In Singapore, there is 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.


DISAGREE: Archard sidesteps the issue of why there is a necessity to co children’s rights; he does not really consider the very real cases 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.


Idea #8: The Convention undermines the fundamental liberty and responsibility of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children [and] what constitutes the family as the distinctive form of human association it is…

[externally imposed justice] will only erode the natural affections and attitudes that render the need for rights unnecessary in the first place.

[A] set of punitive laws will not miraculously reform neglectful or abusive parents, nor will it make caring ones any more loving.


AGREE: 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 parental their responsibilities.

Laws cannot realise / improve morals, and may actually strain natural familial relations.

According Ombudsman (2006), although Sweden bans corporal punishment, many children are still being beaten.




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