Youths bullied into violence, says hotline

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 12:00am

MANY callers to the Youthline telephone counselling service say they are being threatened or bullied by classmates - and many go along with violent acts to retain friendships.

'They responded, under the encouragement of their friends, by taking violent action as well without regard to the consequences,' said hotline supervisor Anita Lam Siu-fung.

The trend, along with an increase in calls about sex and unemployment, was noted in figures for the 1998 calls to Youthline. There was a 10 per cent rise in the number of calls seeking advice on sex problems last year and 60 per cent of callers said they were 'very troubled' by problems of this nature.

The hotline handled 546 cases involving callers who said they had sex problems, an increase from 337 in 1997.

Most were male aged between 12 and 23.

'Most callers asked for counselling after they had read pornographic magazines or seen CD-Roms which led them to frequent or uncontrollable sexual imagination,' Ms Lam said.

The hotline also received many calls asking questions about sex education.

'Many young people are misled by sexual information gained from friends, pornographic magazines and CD-Roms or the Internet,' Ms Lam said.

'Most young people said they dared not ask their parents or teachers in case they got into trouble or were refused answers.' She called on parents and teachers to adopt an open attitude, saying they should encourage children to ask questions.

They should give them straight answers and appropriate support.

Of 1,807 calls about sex last year, fewer involved homosexuality, pre-marital sex, pre-marital pregnancy and abortion, compared with those in 1997. Calls seeking advice on employment increased 20 per cent.

Problems included unemployment and heavy workloads.

Youthline handled a total of 31,360 cases last year.

Love affairs and dates, family problems and mental health were the three areas that worried young people most.

The Youthline number 2777 8899 is open from Monday to Saturday between 2pm and 2am.