Kids' best friend

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2003, 12:00am

The Po Leung Kuk (roughly, Youth Protection Bureau) has been serving the Hong Kong community for 125 years. It was established with a firm commitment to care and protect the young and the innocent and has since expanded its scope of services as a voluntary organisation.

In the late 19th century, abduction and trafficking of women and children were serious problems in Hong Kong. On November 8, 1878, a group of local Chinese presented a petition to the governor, Sir John Pope Hennessy, to set up an organisation to rescue kidnap victims, suppress abductions of children and young girls women and provide the victims with shelter.

The turn of the century bought with it rapid population growth and changing social problems. The Kuk also changed and became one of the largest social welfare organisations, giving care and protection to women and children, including those abandoned or ill-treated by their parents. After the second world war, it expanded to provide an even broader spectrum of social services. Today, the Kuk offers residential, day care, rehabilitation, elderly, educational and recreational services.

Children are still a major focal point for the organisation; it has 19 residential child care service units, providing around 400 places. Educational services include 25 day nurseries, a day creche and a child care centre for pre-school children. Together, they provide almost 3,000 places. The Kuk runs five special schools, serving both primary and secondary pupils. Four of these admit children with moderate or severe mental handicaps. The fifth is a skills opportunity school, teaching life and work skills to mentally handicapped children.