Letters to the Editor, May 26, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 3:59pm

Students under pressure need parent support

The Education Bureau provided more resources for counselling in schools following the spate of student suicides since the start of the academic year.

It also announced seminars for teachers and parents so that they can identify problems earlier.

While Hong Kong’s high-pressured education system is seen as largely to blame, with ­excessive focus on score-oriented assessments putting pressure on students, the issue of youth suicide is complex.

Young Hongkongers have grown up with the internet and spend a lot of time in the virtual world.

That, and a lack of family support, can mean they are less resilient than previous generations when it comes to being able to deal with stress.

In this resources-rich society, they rely too much on others. Solving problems by only typing words in the search bar on the internet has weakened their ability to face challenges.

A lack of independent, critical thinking has led to a decline in interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to handle stress.

However, I also think some of them ­receive less emotional support from families than youngsters did in the past. ­Parents nowadays are often too busy to help as they work long hours.

In contrast, overprotective parents greatly reduce children’s ability to handle adversity by trying to solve all their problems.

Despite the various factors, I believe the education system is largely to blame for the recent high rate of student suicides.

Julianna Ma Ka-lam, Kowloon Tong

Hypocritical officials must earn respect

I take issue with Benjamin Lok’s view that Zhang Dejiang ( 張德江 ) deserves respect ­because of his senior position in the central government ­(“Nothing gained by being so disrespectful”, May 23).

Neither Zhang nor any of his colleagues in the central government has ever stood for office, argued their case in front of an electorate and won an election on the strength of their arguments.

People who stand for election and win them deserve ­respect because their election confers legitimacy, but people who hold office from the threat of jail, torture or worse do not.

Additionally, how is anyone supposed to respect a man whose main contribution while here was to lecture us on ­obeying the rule of law but, at home, denounces the rule of law as a “Western” value that needs to be scrubbed from ­university textbooks and the internet?

If our career politicians, transcendent or otherwise, want to show their respect by holding a cat-got-the-milk grin on their faces for three days, then that is their choice, but please don’t expect the rest of us to engage in this charade.

Lee Faulkner, Lamma

Safety first in any nuclear power push

Supporters of nuclear power and its expansion in countries such as China argue that, compared to fossil fuels, it is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of energy, ­because nuclear power plants produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions during the process of generating electricity.

Nuclear power stations do not have chimneys emitting greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide and they do not pollute nearby water sources.

They provide a relatively inexpensive form of energy, although the initial construction cost of the plant is relatively high.

However, that cost can be defrayed by the long lifespan of each power station – around 40 to 60 years.

But, we cannot ignore the risks that come with it.

Many people who have ­misgivings about these plants being built are ­concerned about nuclear ­accidents and radioactive waste.

The Chernobyl accident and the one in Fukushima, Japan were the most devastating in the past 30 years and their harmful effects on humans and eco-systems are well known.

Governments, including our own, need to think carefully ­before deciding to start ambitious expansion programmes of nuclear power plants, no matter how much they recognise the need to have cleaner fuel and cut down on carbon emissions.

If any decision is taken to ­increase the use of nuclear power, governments must take note and always recognise that safety should be seen as a top priority.

Maggie Chan Hiu-suet, Cheung Sha Wan

More exercise key step in obesity fight

I refer to the report, “Younger obesity sufferers seek help” (May 23).

A rising number of overweight patients are attending obesity clinics in Hong Kong and 40 per cent of them are aged 30 or below. This is an appalling ­situation and it can lead to ­serious health problems for ­patients. Action has to be taken to deal with this.

When addressing this issue, we have to realise that it is not only adults who are affected, but also many young children are seriously overweight. If they can be helped to take preventive ­action from childhood, then the number of young people ­suffering from obesity will drop.

One way for people to deal with a weight problem is to do regular exercise. The Centre for Health Protection recommends 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

However, while this is good in theory, it is difficult to achieve in practice as students have to go to school five days a week and physical education classes may account for less than 10 per cent of total school hours. Most of the time, students are sitting still at a desk.

Schools and the government need to do something about this and make arrangements so that pupils do more exercises.

During break times, such as lunch, there is not enough time for students to exercise. The simple solution would be for schools to shorten the time of lessons and then reserve the ­excess time for exercise.

The government must ­provide subsidies so schools can purchase more exercise equipment and have a designated air-conditioned sports area. ­Besides, more instruction and equipment should be provided to students when they do physical activities.

Schools’ tuck shops should supply healthier food, and avoid selling snacks containing so much sugar, salt and oil.

If schools and the government work together, they can help prevent more young people from becoming obese and hopefully we will soon see fewer patients at public clinics which deal with people who are overweight.

Katrina Lo, Tseung Kwan O

Children can benefit from pet contact

Objections to dog ownership on many private and public estates are mainly due to fear and lack of education, the result being that this fear and prejudice is passed on to the younger generation.

Children naturally love to engage with animals.

Youngsters should be taught early about the importance of being kind to animals. They ­cannot be expected to learn that if they are never allowed to ­encounter any.

In Wembley International Kindergarten, in Taikoo Shing, both in normal school and our summer school, we try to encourage interaction between children and animals so that they can bond with and appreciate how special they are.

Special needs children particularly benefit from our pet visits. “It can’t be helped” is the response of many people when they hear about enforcement of the rule “no dogs allowed”. This heartbreaking situation is ethically wrong and needs to change.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten