Hong Kong schools

Seven in 10 Hong Kong pupils say everything is wrong in their lives, sparking calls for more support for depressed children

Survey finds the unhappiest spend more time online and suffer cyberbullying

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 9:00pm

Education specialists want more support for the city’s depressed children after almost 70 per cent complained in a survey that everything was wrong in their lives.

Academics found that those who were most unhappy had spent more time online and were more likely to have suffered cyberbullying.

This in turn caused some to react aggressively themselves online. Others suffered deep depression.

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The study, led by Professor Dennis Wong Sing-wing, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at City University, polled 3,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 16.

While Wong said the government should carry out a survey of students’ mental health, school principals hoped more counselling services could be allocated.

According to the survey – carried out from April to June last year as part of a five-year study commissioned by the Quality Education Fund – around 64 per cent felt worried or frustrated.

More than half felt useless. Experts said the feelings described by the pupils were classic symptoms of depression.

Though the findings on depression were a “side effect” to the focus on cyberbullying, Wong warned that the situation was alarming.

Some may turn more inward and depressed, some may become victim bullies
Professor Dennis Wong Sing-wing, survey leader

In a 43-page report released on Tuesday he called for the launch of a mental health survey that would help schools to collect feedback and offer better support to pupils.

Wong’s study found that the most common form of cyberbullying among secondary school pupils was the modification of images for mockery. Among primary pupils it was intense verbal attacks.

A relatively strong correlation was observed between levels of depression and reactive aggression.

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“It shows unhappy students struggle in the face of bullying,” Wong explained. “Some may turn more inward and depressed, some may turn around and become victim bullies.”

While schools educated students about cybersecurity and the need to uphold decent values, principals said they were desperately short of mental health professionals.

Yeung Yun-ling, principal of the Christian Alliance H.C. Chan Primary School, said: “On average, seven to eight schools share one educational psychologist and the one for our 800 students spend around 20 days in campus every year.”

Kwong Wing-sun, principal of the Christian Alliance SW Chan Memorial College, said although each secondary school had a social worker, it was difficult for one person to handle 700 to 800 teenagers.