Child protection is a key focus for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 10:44pm

I refer to the letter from Priscilla Lui, of the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights (“Swift action needed to protect children’s rights as risks mount”, November 25).

The Hong Kong government attaches great importance to the well-being of children and firmly believes that every child has a right to protection against harm and abuse.

Child protection is an important area of work of the Social Welfare Department.

To facilitate professionals concerned in developing a common understanding of the definition of child abuse and adopting a consistent approach in handling various types of suspected or confirmed child abuse cases, the department started a review of the Procedural Guide for Handling Child Abuse Cases in mid-2016.

The review also aims to provide frontline professionals with enhanced reference of indicators, and a guide for early identification and intervention in cases with higher risk of child abuse, and enhance collaboration among professionals and families concerned in the formulation and implementation of welfare plans.

A draft review plan was discussed at a meeting of the Committee on Child Abuse in October. To tap the expertise and experience of professionals, a task group was formed with wide representation from various government departments/bureaus and service sectors, including NGOs engaged in child protective services, integrated family or children and youth services, as well as those providing school social work, residential child care and substance abuse treatment services.

Moreover, different focus groups will be formed to enable in-depth discussion on specific topics and, where appropriate, stakeholders such as parents and children’s groups will be consulted.

In view of the extensive scope of the review, members of the Committee on Child Abuse as well as the task group understand that sufficient time should be allowed for extensive consultation in order to conduct a full review.

Nonetheless, members share the view that if certain improvement measures are considered essential and urgent, priority will be accorded for early discussion and implementation without delay even before a full review is completed.

Fung Man-chung, assistant director (family and child welfare), Social Welfare Department