Government should do more to help problem parents

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2008, 12:00am

A number of incidents in Hong Kong have indicated that our child welfare policy and the lack of support for parents to care for their children should be carefully reviewed, for the sake of the children.

Proper welfare for children means adequate physical, social and psychological care for those who are too young to take care of themselves. Tin Shui Wai is characterised by a high percentage of low-income families, the highest unemployment rate, the highest rate of reported family abuse and single-parent families. Often there is no adult supervision, if parents are working long hours. Very young children are often seen wandering around the streets late in the evening.

Physically exhausted parents are often under so much stress that they do not have the patience that is needed to look after their children.

This can lead to a low level of tolerance and their children misbehave. Unemployed parents or parents with mental health problems or addictions, are likely to need assistance in the care of their children.

There is also a lack of recreational amenities. In Tin Shui Wai, playgrounds are too small and are often packed, as is the library.

Suitable help should be made available by the government to help parents who have difficulties, for example, having childcare centres for children with working parents.

Proper measures should be considered for those who do not fulfil their parental responsibilities by using the available childcare facilities. Education for parents to take up their duties, for neighbours to be caring adults and for the relevant professionals to enforce the laws in protecting children should be stepped up without delay.

The government should be active and persistent in carrying out policy reviews on child welfare and upgrading medical, social and recreational amenities for families in Tin Shui Wai.

A database system should be set up to regularly monitor parents who have neglected and abused their children to ensure they have changed and are caring properly for their children.

Man Pui-lin, convenor, concern group of family service, Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union