Abusive father given chance to renew ties to son

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am

A father who had hit and chained up his hyperactive son after flying into a rage was bound over yesterday, a sentence the magistrate hoped would allow the man to repair his relationship with the eight-year-old boy.

Lam Tak-chung, who agreed to the order after pleading guilty to a charge of child abuse, would have to be on good behaviour for a year, against a HK$1,000 surety.

On April 12, Lam grew angry and fetched a metal tube to beat his son upon discovering that the hyperactive boy had made a mess in the living room.

The father then used a 1.2m chain to bind the boy to a window.

The case came to light after a social worker received an anonymous complaint against Lam. A check on the boy at school revealed he had several bruises on his limbs and a rash on his forearm.

Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming, of Kwun Tong Court, spared the father from a community service order after a probation officer said it would deny the man the time to renew his bond with his child.

Lam, 47, works at two jobs to support his family. Mr Yuen accepted that the defendant was a family man who loved his son and that he would work hard to keep his family together.

The magistrate agreed that it would take time and patience to take care of the boy, who had attention-deficit disorder. Mr Yuen said the assault occurred because of a momentary loss of temper.

A binding-over order is not a criminal conviction, though it requires the defendant to stay out of trouble for a specified period of time against a sum of money as a recognisance.

Education and psychology expert John Tse Wing-ling urged parents to have their children tested if they observed symptoms of hyperactivity. Such tests, he said, were available at child assessment centres and clinics.

'Most of the children could experience significant improvements in behaviour and learning with medication,' said Dr Tse, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies at City University.

'But not all parents would want to have their children diagnosed in so far as they still see hyperactivity as a behavioural problem instead of a medical issue.

'Of course, parents should be more patient with hyperactive children, but it is important that they allow their children to receive medical help.'

He said hyperactive children would normally be prescribed stimulants, which have few side effects beyond loss of appetite.

The symptoms of hyperactivity include difficulty concentrating, being easily distracted, excessive talkativeness, and a tendency to interrupt others' conversations.