Should we give money to people begging on the street?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2008, 12:00am

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Dennis Wu, 19, St Joseph's College

In this cosmopolitan city, beggars are surprisingly easy to find. They are a nuisance to pedestrians who walk away looking disgusted.

Some kind-hearted passers-by, however, stop and drop a coin or two into their hands.

I do have sympathy, but we shouldn't be giving them money.

Nobody wants to see beggars, they portray a negative image of Hong Kong.

Giving them money isn't going to make them disappear; it would actually encourage a whole new generation to come out and beg. Moreover, a few dollars won't change their quality of life.

If we genuinely want to help these people, we need a comprehensive social assistance scheme, not random donations.

From what I've seen over the years, most beggars are capable of making a living. We definitely shouldn't give money to them as it could convey the wrong message.

We want our citizens to be responsible and diligent.

To achieve that, we must stop giving money to beggars on the streets.

Esther Pang, 16, Diocesan Girls' School

Even in the most advanced cities you can see beggars lying on the streets, their heads drooping with misery.

How many times have you passed by without even pausing to give them a glance?

It's not because we're unfeeling that we walk past without dropping a few coins. Sometimes, we're just in too much of a hurry.

But this isn't a good reason for not helping. It only takes a few seconds to find some spare coins.

When you see a charity selling flags you stop and donate. So why is it so hard to stop for a beggar, who is in as much need as the starving children in Africa?

Sometimes, we're afraid that a beggar may be part of a scam. Being wary is alright but how can one tell the difference?

Does it matter? Giving a few dollars isn't like handing over all your savings.

If you give, you can help. If you happen to give a few dollars to cheats, all you've lost is spare change.

It's not wrong to be wary, but if one is suspicious of everybody, that's a very miserable way to live.

Giving a little change to beggars won't hurt.