PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am

Show some respect to society's heroes

We've all heard the horror stories: the domestic helper who sleeps in a closet and is beaten when she doesn't clean the sink properly, or who is burned with an iron and depends on others' charity for food.

As a Hong Kong resident for more than 12 years, I've seen how important domestic helpers are to the city.

Thousands of expatriates and locals employ at least one foreign domestic helper, and although most are taken care of, many are not.

According to the Asian Migrant Centre, about 15 per cent of all domestic helpers are underpaid, and 22 per cent don't get the weekly day off they're legally entitled to. And 26 per cent suffer verbal and physical abuse, with 4.5 per cent of those cases involving sexual abuse.

Many domestic helpers choose to keep silent about abuse - to avoid investigation and the risk of prosecution. what's more, cases can take up to 15 months to reach court, during which time they cannot work.

Domestic helpers should be the heroes of our society, hurdling so many obstacles in an unknown world to support their families back home. We need to be aware of and stop this abuse, and treat helpers with the respect they deserve.

Caroline Scown, HKIS Middle School

We should treasure our grandparents

These days, most young people prefer not to live with their parents after they marry as they might have done in previous generations. Many return home only for festivals or family reunions.

But living with our parents is good for both old and young. Elderly people sometimes miss being hands-on parents, and helping with grandchildren can be a way to deal with this. It's also good for young couples, who can call on their parents for help - especially when they first have a baby.

And grandchildren like spending time with their grandparents. I love living with mine - they treat me well and tell me stories about their lives.

We have a responsibility to take care of our families. Living with elderly parents or grandparents is not as bad as some might think.

Karen Ho Hiu-tung, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School

Reach out to isolated elders

Our society is ageing, yet no one is taking the problem seriously. Elderly people are becoming increasingly isolated. It is important the younger generation doesn't allow that to happen.

Our grandparents made a massive contribution to Hong Kong when they were young. As their children and grandchildren, it is our duty to look after them in their old age. Voluntary work to help elderly people is the best way to educate children about respecting their elders. Spending time with children can be energising for old people.

I encourage all young people to visit homes for the elderly and talk to the residents. There's plenty of information on the internet and in schools on voluntary programmes to help elderly people. So, what are you waiting for?

Kathy Chan Ching-lam, Shun Tak Fraternal Association Tam Pak Yu College

See yp.scmp.com/heritage

Find ways to secure China's food supply

Food shortages are a serious problem on the mainland, given its massive population and diminishing supply of arable land.

Beijing has three solutions: boost international food trade; seek more suppliers to minimise the effects of extreme weather; and reduce food waste. The mainland needs to secure an adequate supply of food for its population.

Isaac Ho, Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School

'Helicopter parents' and Hong Kong kids

Grown-ups criticise the ignorance of 'Hong Kong kids', but I believe the so-called helicopter parents are responsible for these youngsters' attitudes.

These children depend on their parents or helpers to do everything. They are emotionally unable to handle challenges. They do not know how to take care of themselves, and they have no curiosity or opinions.

'Helicopter parents' hover over their children all the time, so they cannot deny responsibility for the youngsters' behaviour. 'Let go' and stop spoiling your children.

Sarah Cheung, Sha Tin Government Secondary School