• Fri
  • Apr 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:33am
Wealth Blog
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 9:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 4:39pm

Discovery Bay teens - bored to drink and drugs

What has happened to Discovery Bay, that genteel haven of child-friendly tranquility? I open the November edition of  community magazine Around DB to find parents debating how much rope to give their teenagers, who are resorting to drink and drugs out of sheer boredom. I am not making this up. Granted, it’s buried in a thoughtful piece about how permissive should parents be, but it’s there in black and white. DB seems to have become a den of under-age drinking, drugs and who knows what else.

The writer, Hannah Ball, delves into the antics of DB teens on a Friday night. Hannah “put some feelers out” and discovers that “many teens – aged 13 and up – hang out in DB Plaza and drink alcohol on “Plaza Friday,” whatever that is. She also finds that “there’s a certain amount of drug-taking on the DB beaches (and in The Dome above DB Plaza), and that love is made (as it always was) at home when parents are out.” 

Nothing else to do

She finds that the general lament about living in DB is that there is very little to do for fun, there’s no skate park or sizeable sports field, - no place to hang out. The nearest cinema is in Tung Chung, the nearest skating rink in Tsim Sha Tsui.

No fun alternatives

Even James Buckner, pastor of DB International Community Church, admits: “It’s certainly true that the reason so many teens gather in DB Plaza on a Friday night to drink is because DB has no fun alternatives to offer them.” On a recent Friday, he and a friend counted 130 teenagers in the Plaza. It doesn’t sound like the school discos, church run youth groups and sport, music and drama clubs are hitting the teenage spot in DB.

Drug problem exists

Claire Smith, mother of two kids aged 14 and 16, says parents in DB are “far too laid back and we often have no idea what our teens get up to on Friday nights.” The whole issue of drugs amongst teens also tends to get ignored, she adds. “When it clearly does exist here. Every parent is insistent that their kids aren’t involved.”   


Teens fake IDs to drink

Seventeen-year-old Discovery College student Talla Buffey, winner of Around DB’s 2012 writers competition, says: “There is nothing of teenage interest to do in DB. Hang out in McDonalds or sit at the plaza tables with a bottle of Sprite?” That doesn’t necessarily spell out “fun” to a bunch of 14 to 18 year olds, she adds.

Most of her friends often go to other people’s houses as entertainment, but there’s a point when that becomes boring. “That’s when you are long to experience Hong Kong Island,” she says, adding: “it’s not uncommon for teens to get fake IDs so they can party in Central.”

I’m quite shocked to read all this, but in reality, why should teenagers in DB be different to anywhere else? Teenage drinking and drugs are no respecters of class, income or carless location.


Demand better facilities

The last piece I wrote about DB prompted a torrent of abusive letters from residents, convinced I had a vendetta against the place. For the record, I am not trying to bring down DB property prices now, any more than I was last time. All I said was that I knew it was time to leave DB when a sign went up announcing the “Best Dressed Golf Cart Competition” in the plaza.

But back to the topic of bored kids. Maybe laid-back parenting isn’t the only issue here. Maybe DB’s owners Hong Kong Resorts could invest some of their billions of profits in cinemas, ice-rinks and football pitches, instead of just building more and more flats. If you feel moved to write to me, please consider writing to them instead.




This article is now closed to comments

If you visited Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Vancouver city centers on a Friday evening, you would see young people out in force in the streets, many stone drunk, or totteringly drunk. It can't be all due to having nothing else to do, but more to do with the culture? I don't think Chinese youths are quite as much into drinks and drugs, at least not in such numbers or as openly.
My aged mother has lived in DB for over a decade and I own an investment property at Bijou Hamlet; it is noticeable that on the ferry and around DB the noisy, annoying and generally badly behaved children are all expat kids; so rather than blame DB how about the expat parents spending more time parenting and less time drinking at the various DB outlets - do you really need to drink before boarding the ferry and on the ferry!
Let's be mindful that drug-taking, fake IDs and teenage drinking are not issues limited to DB, but in various communities across Hong Kong. Although we know that these are problems facing our youth, drug and alcohol abuse is a social issue which needs to be addressed by all members of society. Perhaps the first step to tackling these issues is through creating dialogue within the community: to establish a safe space to engage youth, parents, district counsellors to openly discuss this issue and solve the problem together. We should give young people a chance to speak their minds and find out how they are really feeling, so that we can understand the reasons behind the alcohol and drug use.
The physical space of the Community Hall is there – which can be used for meaningful discussions to better understand the underlying causes for abuse as well as develop proactive and concerted community-based strategies to help our youth. One by one, we can empower these youth to make their own decisions, and help them solve the issues of drug and alcohol abuse using a non-judgmental, empathetic, and peer support approach.
KELY Support Group believes in helping young people make informed decisions to reach their full potential. If there are young people in DB who are facing drug and alcohol issues and require support, or simply want to volunteer for us, they can email us at: contact@kely.org.
When we talk about young alcohol abuse, we need to explore the underlying issues facing our youth and whether these issues are being addressed in that particular community.
Discovery Bay is a beautifully scenic place with a small-knit community. Amongst the DB dwellers, about 50% of the population is English-speaking; many are expatriates who came with their family to Hong Kong for work. The teenagers in these families were either born in Hong Kong or have lived abroad,and may have lived in a previous home with more facilities and activities. Like many others throughout Hong Kong, these young people tend to hang around their peers and have limited opportunities to keep them meaningfully engaged.
Albeit scenically beautiful, Discovery Bay is small. There’s one Government-run community hall and a few more facilities which all do not appear to be very youth-oriented. It’s perhaps not a surprise that the teenagers all hang out on the beaches or the Plaza.
At KELY Support Group, we work with young people on a regular basis. When we consulted the youth who live in Discovery Bay about this article, a few of them did not seem at all surprised. One commented: “I think when people run out of things to do, they just try to find other things to do that are "fun" or "exciting". Another youth is aware of the drinking at the Plaza and the beaches, but states that not all of the teens there engage in such behaviour.
Teens like to drink and experiment with drugs. It is common--especially in western culture, and has nothing to do with Discovery Bay lacking "fun" things to do.
Can't be worse that what happened in the US, where some kids decided to murder an Australian student because they were bored.
This is just reality for teens anywhere, no surprises in this article. DB however tends to be a 'truman show' kind of bubble, especially for the parents, and many have probably never really taken their kids (when they were younger) to see other parts of Hong Kong, hence the focus on Lan Kwai Fong.
No fun alternatives? Maybe stop just starring at your phone and start looking for some active activities to do.
And if you're really that bored, how about help out at a local charity, I'm sure they welcome any help that they could get, and maybe you'll gain some perspective about life.
I blame HRI for closing the 2nd hand bookshop
Anna. Bit disappointed that you should resort to simply quoting Around DB, with not an iota of original input.



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