Teens warned over border perils

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am

A social worker has warned youngsters to stay alert on short trips across the border following the Shenzhen nightclub blaze which claimed the lives of five Hongkongers.

Peter Cheung Kwok-che, president of the Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union, said it had become a trend for Hong Kong youngsters to visit Guangdong's cities because such trips were cheap and easy to make.

'It is more economical than Hong Kong and it gives them a sense of a vacation,' he said.

But youngsters who sought such getaways had to shoulder the risks in cities that had different laws and safety standards, he said.

Mr Cheung added that social workers should be given more opportunities to do outreach work with young people who travelled frequently to Guangdong.

He said some youngsters tried to find drugs. 'As they often go in groups, such trips give them a sense of belonging with their peers,' he said.

Lax supervision in mainland cities provides youngsters with easy access to nightclubs, alcohol and drugs.

'In Hong Kong, they are not going to be able to go to nightclubs. Karaoke bars are also expensive,' he said.

Improved transport links also meant the numbers travelling to cities such as Shenzhen was rising. 'It is just like going to the suburbs,' Mr Cheung said. However, he added, youngsters had to stay on their guard. 'They shouldn't assume everything will be fine.'

He said that in crowded places people should sit as near to the exits as possible, and warned youngsters not to take drugs. 'If you are on drugs, you are not going to be able to escape when there are accidents,' he said.

Mr Cheung said there was a lack of channels for social workers to help youngsters across the border.

He said more had to be done to let social workers from both sides of the border perform outreach work.