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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:21pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong's parents raising 'spoiled brats', warns study

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 11:25am

"Monster" parents in Hong Kong are turning out a generation of spoiled brats who have an inflated view of their abilities and may resort to aggression to get ahead, a City University study warns.

Annis Fung, associate professor in the department of applied social studies, said Hong Kong children rated themselves a lot more highly than youngsters in the West - to an extent that some are at risk of developing disorders that could turn them into violent offenders.

"The city is at high risk as it is producing spoiled children who are overconfident about themselves," Fung said yesterday.

The city is at high risk as it is producing spoiled children who are overconfident about themselves

She tested 9,400 pupils with an average age of 11 using an antisocial process screening device (APSD) - a questionnaire that detects antisocial traits. The average level of narcissism displayed by youngsters in the city was 3.89 on a 14-point scale - higher than the 2.9 for children in the United States, 2.36 in the United Kingdom and 2.81 in Australia.

The test measures children's self-regard and their views of the outside world, as well as their means of achieving their desires.

Fung said she was worried because 16 per cent of children showed signs that they were aggressors or tended to bully, while similar studies in the US found about 10 per cent of children with such a tendency. This category of children had an APSD score of 6.23, similar to that of adolescent criminals in the US and Canada.

"Action must be taken. We don't want murders," she said, adding such children may try to achieve their goals without thinking of the consequences.

Fung said the study was the first of its kind in Hong Kong.

Registered social worker Cecilia Ng Kam-kuen said that Hong Kong's outcome-based education system encouraged people to be more selfish and "only look at the results". Such a culture is likely to influence children and make them self-centered.

Fung warned: "Parents are giving too many things to their kids, making them feel good about themselves. Such monster parents overprotect and make children narcissistic. This can be potentially dangerous."



Classic signs of a narcissist

  • Fake expressions of emotion
  • Over-regard for one's abilities and achievements
  • Getting ahead by cheating and using others
  • A tendency to tease and play pranks
  • Using charm to seek benefits
  • Being upset by dissenting opinions
  • A sense of superiority




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This article is now closed to comments

In a news article on the same topic on the Standard, it is mentioned that growing up with domestic helpers is a major contributory factor to narcissism in children. The reason is that children develop the idea that they are superior to others in that do not need to help with chores around the house because their schoolwork and grades are more important. This would naturally embed itself into children's broad value system and worldview. Curiously enough, children growing up in households receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance apparently exhibit no elevated signs of narcissism.
If the results of this study are true, then our current system of importing foreign domestic helpers not only serve to effectively enslave fellow human beings, but also to poison the minds of our future generations.
Dai Muff
"Fake expressions of emotion
Over-regard for one's abilities and achievements
Getting ahead by cheating and using others
A tendency to tease and play pranks
Using charm to seek benefits
Being upset by dissenting opinions
A sense of superiority"
You seem to have described many of those who "administrate" our city .
So true..........somehow, I doubt this trend can be reversed because the source of the problem lies with the HK parents...........and, these parents are never going to change.
Not belittling to the research and recommendation, I add too that children’s lack of parietal’s proper care is more of the source in creating problematic youngsters. Perhaps Chinese population has always been out-numbering resources and opportunities; it is part of Chinese culture to be competitive. Hong Kong’s competitive education system has years of history. The two generations of self-centered and inflated children are the result of lack and/or proper care by parents. Hong Kong people has entrusted childcare to their domestic help. It is not only improper as there is no substitute for childcare but by parents. In a two-bread earner economy, Hong Kong people has been choosing childless.
Might be true but not isolated to Hong Kong. I have heard from friends in many countries that today's generation of twenty somethings have a hugely inflated idea of what they should get, from jobs and money to government entitlements, all without much work. I have seen and heard of so many examples of new graduates asking for double the market rate in terms of salary and actually believing this is what they deserve, plus benefits, lots of holiday time, etc. Maybe by age 30, reality will have sunk in.
Dai Muff
She may have a point. But on the other hand, old people have been saying this about kids since the Stone Age.
I cannot agree more and I am worry that in reality, the situation is even worse. Similar traits are found among local undergraduate students already. Just visit the open day of every tertiary institutions, and monster parents with over-confidence youngsters are everywhere. The figures of undergraduate students committed criminal acts are gradually increasing.
Most local youngsters are not willing to work hard, comparing with their non-local and mainland counterparts, and complained that chances and scholarships are given to non-local students unfairly. Judging from the attitudes and efforts devoted by our local youngsters, they are more problematic as they do not realize that it's their own problems which contributed to their poor achievement. Nevertheless, they will join the workforce soon. Good luck our fellow employers.
" Action must be taken. We don't want murders." Really ?
BBC World does 'the papers' on their daily broadcast and they have had a field day with this one. Some of the BBC's observations and I agree:
1. Children behave badly ~ it is not a new trend and unlikely to be confined to Hong Kong.
2. Parents have inflated views of their children ~ happens everywhere.
3. Whatever is this APSD measure and how do we know it has an validity beyond advancing Prof. Annis Fung's career?
4. Children get knocked down in their 20's quickly when they get away from school, mom and dad and join the workforce. They are difficult in the beginning but it doesn't last long or they don't last.
Agree. Besides monster parents, some child education experts also suggest parents trying not to blame their children, but always encourage them or emphasize the positive sides to give them more confidence to try new things. To some extend, the children only know what they are doing is right. To educate kids just right and timely is always a headache. Being a good parent needs a lot of wisdom.



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