Classmate woes for many pupils
By SHIRLEY KWOK
HOW to get along with classmates is the most common problem facing students, figures compiled by the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong revealed.
The Children's Hotline, set up by the association in November 1991 for Primary 4 to Form 1 students to call in for counselling and advice, received over 1,360 calls from April 1992 to March 1993.
More than a quarter of the callers asked about problems of communicating with classmates.
''The figures show that many children are very ignorant about dealing with classmates,'' said Ms Chan Fung-ming, who is in charge of the hotline.
''The children, whose parents and teachers care only about their academic results and overlook the training on communication skills, may find it difficult to get on with others.
''This very often puts extra pressure on them and affects their studies. More inter-personal relationship training should be given in school and family life education.'' Ms Chan said, however, the children's problems were, in fact, not very serious but only a storm in the tea cup, and would be easily solved if enough counselling and guidance were provided.
''Young children, because of their immaturity and lack of a sense of security, like to form groups and play together. Different groups in a class, without good communication, result in conflicts easily.'' Figures also showed that over 16 per cent of those who called in were affected by academic problems.
Family problems were a major issue. There were complaints about parents showing favour to other brothers and sisters, poor relationship with parents and lack of parental love.
Over 60 per cent of the calls were made by those between the ages of nine and 13. The youngest callers were only six-years-old.
The association is recruiting more helpers to man the telephone lines. At present, the service has 14 volunteers; 20 more will be required to improve the service.
''The service is not fully utilised because we do not have enough manpower. The number of volunteers recruited is of no guarantee because this is only a voluntary job with no pay, some will quit when they are busy in school or pursuing their own careers.'' Ms Chan said the association might extend the service to cover more working days and hours. ''We see the need for this kind of service. Children like to dial in and talk about their joy and sadness, without revealing their names.'' People aged 21 or above and who have finished secondary schooling or doing tertiary studies are welcome to join the voluntary service.
There will be training on basic counselling techniques. Those interested should call the association on 850-7237.
Young people who have problems and want to seek advice can call the hotline on 543-3212 (three lines) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, and on Saturdays, from 10 am to noon.