Roaming students target for street crime, study finds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2002, 12:00am

More than half the youths in a recent survey roamed the streets, making them prone to crime, drugs and gambling, social workers said yesterday.

A total of 2,034 students, aged 13 to 15 from 20 secondary schools, were questioned by the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society. It found 59 per cent arrived home after 10pm at least one day a month.

More than one-third said they did not like staying at home, with 49 per cent of these avoiding it because they had a bad relationship with their parents.

The most popular activities outside the home included chatting with others, wandering the streets, drinking alcohol, gambling and smoking.

Twenty-six per cent of night drifters said they had contacted triad members, 20 per cent had committed criminal offences and 15 per cent said they had been involved in fighting.

The society's principal social worker, Tabitha Ho Wai-man, said 19 per cent of respondents stayed out after 10pm for six days or more a month. They were most at risk.

Thirty-six per cent did not like staying at home, with seven per cent revealing a 'strong dislike'.

Most of these felt home was boring and 56 per cent said the streets could offer more excitement. Forty-nine per cent of them were dissatisfied with their mother and father's parenting style, saying they nagged, were too controlling, old-fashioned, unreasonable and bossy.

Welfare Society school social worker Wallace Tsang Wai-hung said parents should learn better listening and sharing skills.

'Children want their parents to show they understand their difficulties instead of being merely concerned with their academic results and school conduct,' he said.

He warned that parents who frequently quarrelled would adversely affect their children's psychological stability. 'Some touching words between the couple can promote a better relationship and create an atmosphere of warmth for children,' he said.

Mr Tsang said those who experienced marital problems or had trouble with their children should seek counselling.

One boy, Ah-hang, 17, who frequently stayed out late at night, said things had improved since his family had undergone counselling.

'When we stay out we usually buy some beer with friends or chat in the park. I didn't like to stay at home because I quarrelled with my parents who nagged me and asked irrelevant questions. It was boring and I didn't want to talk to them,' he said.

'Since the counselling, the situation has improved and I feel my parents respect me more and don't scold me so much and admit when they are wrong, so I like to stay at home more.'