PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am


We need higher fertility rates

Low fertility rates are a big concern to governments in many developing countries. Hong Kong is no exception. The city's fertility rate was 1.04 children per woman in 2009. This is far lower than the rate of 2.01 children per woman that is needed for well-balanced population growth.

There are many reasons for low fertility rates: the rising importance of women at work, family-unfriendly policies and the soaring expenses of rearing children.

Today's women are more educated. They no longer have to be housewives. That means many people tend to postpone marriage and having children.

Long working hours and stressful working environments are also factors in the low fertility rate. People have to juggle time between their family, job and friends.

To make matters worse, most companies do not provide parental leave for their male employers.

Then there are the costs. In today's competitive educational environment, children have to play multiple musical instruments, attend play groups and tutorial classes, study different languages and participate in sport activities. All that costs a lot of money.

The government must provide more help to people who want to have a family. The future generations are the pillars of our society. We need them to sustain our prosperity, and health care and welfare services.

We need to act now.

Lee Wai-yan

Let's ease up on the middle class

The middle class is the core of our society. Not only do middle-class people work for businesses, they also provide much-needed tax revenue to the government. Yet the government cares little about them.

The middle class is excluded from almost all social benefits. Unlike grassroots people, the city's middle-class is ineligible for public housing, and transport or education subsidies. Yet they have to shoulder a heavy tax burden, and soaring property and food prices.

Over time, some middle-class people may end up becoming poor because they might not be able to bear their heavy expenses. This will increase the need for welfare.

The resumption of the home ownership scheme is a step in the right direction. The government should continue to pay attention to the needs of middle-class people.

Angela Yung

Addicted to their mobile phones

Some people seem addicted to their smartphones. Even during dinner or in theatres, they keep checking their phones.

Many people seem to prefer electronic communication to the traditional face-to-face variety. Every day, I see people gazing at their mobile phones - in restaurants, on buses, almost everywhere. Some people keep staring at their phones even as they walk on crowded streets.

While I, too, like using Facebook and Twitter, I am aware that we still need face-to-face contact. Chatting electronically doesn't compare to doing so in person.

Emoticons cannot be substitutes for facial expressions and real feelings. Even a conversation on the phone is way better than texting.

Rachel Lo, SKH Lam Kau Mow Secondary School

We must say no to all kinds of bullying

Bullying comes in many forms, from the traditional kind to cyber attacks. I read a newspaper article about teens who assumed fake identities to make others look bad on Facebook or YouTube.

Some teens in the US are so upset over online bullying that they've even hurt themselves. Some end up with their reputations tarnished because of online hate campaigns.

I think many young bullies do not really understand that their actions can have serious consequences. They do not think that their behaviour can hurt their victims mentally.

Some bullies may even enjoy inflicting emotional pain on others.

But playing childish pranks and destroying someone's reputation are not the same thing.

I think schools should teach moral values to students so they learn the difference between teasing and bullying.

Bullies might also need help. Many of them may be troubled teens who just want to take out their frustration on others.

Evelyn Wong Sze-cheuk, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School