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.