Hong Kong parents must talk to pressured children, not blame the system always

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 11:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 8:51pm

In recent years, the rate of student suicide has increased rapidly in Hong Kong. Between 2013 and 2016, as many as 71 students took their own lives, a tragic loss that shows that society should pay more attention to the reasons so many young people considered suicide as the only solution to their problems.

Firstly, a lot has been written about the pressure on young people from Hong Kong’s education system, particularly the emphasis on exam performance and that anything less than top marks means they are doomed to be a failure in life.

But it’s not all the fault of the education system: parents have a responsibility, too. Many complain to teachers that their children’s pressure comes from their studies and less-than-perfect academic results, and this shifts the responsibility to the teachers and is therefore not their own. More homework and other exercises to try to “solve” underperformance only increases the pressure on their children. It’s a vicious circle: poor results means more study needed, and if students cannot reduce their pressure, they choose to fix it by killing themselves.

Secondly, parents will often mention how hard life was in the past and what they had to endure compared to children today. Of course, life was not easy, but recalling that doesn’t really help.

Add to that the fact that some parents also like to compare their son or daughter’s performance with those of their classmates means an extra layer of pressure on students. Comparing with others will just make children feel they have disappointed their parents and make them depressed.

We are all unique, with different strengths and weaknesses, and there is no need to compare with others.

Parents should stop complaining to the government because they might be the ones that are really piling on the pressure.

Parents should pay more attention to their children’s moods and feelings and offer help, not a scolding if they fail. Taking time to talk to them will help a troubled mind.

Wing Lau, Tseung Kwan O