PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am

What do you think about sex education in Hong Kong?

There is a great deal of public concern about the failure of sex education in the city. I think the sex education has failed miserably.

It is not teaching young people about the proper values towards sex and has not led to a marked reduction in teenage pregnancies. Efforts at teaching 'sex education' have so far been only superficial. We need effective action rather than empty words.

Because of the pressure to prepare students for exams, teachers find it difficult to put sex education on the curriculum. And again, because of time constraints, even when there is sex education, teachers do not have enough time to discuss the subject in an in-depth way, to talk about the responsibilities that come with sexual relationships and the dangers of casual sex.

Even today, most people in Hong Kong still treat sex as a taboo subject. This sentiment is perpetuated at school, where the information about sex we can find is in the few chapters on reproduction in our biology textbooks.

Parents seem to think knowledge of sex is something that young people will naturally acquire as they grow up. So they seldom teach their children about the proper values associated with sex.

Many young people are too embarrassed to raise the subject with their parents and teachers so they try to satisfy their curiosity through the internet or with magazines and this can lead them to inappropriate information.

Some surveys have shown that the main source of sexual knowledge of most secondary school students comes from the media and not from school or their parents. This can lead to them having an irresponsible attitude towards sex.

If we let this state of affairs continue, the consequences for our society will be serious. The government must ensure that effective sex education classes are included on the curriculum.

Teachers must be allowed more time to ensure that students have a mature attitude towards sex and they should be given suitable training.

Sex should not be seen as a taboo subject. We have to make sure that our young people acquire the correct values regarding sex and avoid casual sex.

Yip On-ki, Sham Shui Po

How do you feel about the smoking ban after a year?

Despite the fact that the legislation banning smoking in public places has been in force for almost a year, it does not appear to have had a significant effect on smokers.

There is no doubt, however, that the environment has improved in places where smoking is no longer allowed, such as restaurants, offices, karaoke houses and some bars. Things are a great deal better now, especially for people in the workplace. However, the ban does not appear to have meant that people are smoking less. Instead, people who are not allowed to light up inside are smoking outside and passers-by are at risk from second-hand smoke.

Many smokers do not know where to go for help if they want help to give up. They do not realise there are smoking cessation clinics where they can get help with their addiction. The government must promote these clinics, so that more smokers know about them.

Becky Chan, Kwun Tong

As I suffer from asthma, inhalation of second-hand smoke has been a problem for me.

I really hate it when I see people smoking. They are putting themselves in danger and that is their business. However, through second-hand smoke, they are putting other people at risk.

I think the air quality at indoor locations is better since the ban was introduced.

However, I would like to see Tobacco Control Office inspectors doing more to enforce the no-smoking law.

Ivy Lee, Kwun Tong

Should ParknShop have stuck to its 'no plastic bags' campaign?

The recent plastic bag debate has generated a number of letters from readers who say they must have free bags to use for refuse disposal.

Have they examined their refuse to see why they need so many bags?

Supermarkets could make significant savings by doing away with superfluous packaging. Customers should refuse to buy fruit, vegetables and other products packed on Styrofoam trays that our supermarket monopolies know are excessive but refuse to reduce as 'it is part of our marketing policy'.

Are these readers making use of alternative bin bags such as the bags their bread, cereals and other foodstuffs come in? Most clothes come in clear bags. What about the DHL, UPS, TNT and other courier bags and large envelopes dumped in offices every day?

Dry cleaning also involves copious plastic covers. The alternatives are endless and with a little ingenuity, what once was just binned could be recycled as bin liners. Readers who object to paying for bags should also bear in mind that those of us who bring our own bags have been subsidising them for years.

I recently saw a cashier at Watsons give the customer in front of me a dozen very large plastic bags to be used later to subdivide his purchases, already adequately packed in two large bags. The cost of these extra bags was certainly reflected in the price of my purchases.

A user-pays policy for bags in all our shops whereby the actual cost of the bag is passed on to the consumer would be the most equitable solution.

It would relieve those who bring their own bags of the burden of subsidising other shoppers and would encourage other shoppers to demand that retailers reduce the unnecessary packaging that takes so much space and generates so much refuse.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

On other matters ...

I regularly walk along the Black's Link trail for exercise (the one at the junction of Upper Stubbs and Peak Roads). There are many regulars' there too. For instance, I have befriended a woman and she always cleans up after her dog. We need more dog owners like her. Kudos to her and other owners who pick up after their dogs.

Shame on those irresponsible dog owners and helpers who let their dogs make a mess all over the city's pathways. If they cannot clean up after their pets, then they should not have them.

Possibly in this regard, there have been incidents of dog poisoning on Black's Link. It is wrong to poison dogs.

It is not the dog's fault that it has made a mess and that the mess is not cleaned up. It is the dog owner's fault.

JoAnne Marie Law, Mid-Levels