Children living in Hong Kong’s poorer districts more likely to face abuse, or get into accidents, study says
University of Hong Kong report also says about 30 to 50 per cent of such cases are preventable
Hong Kong children living in low-income districts are most at risk of abuse or getting into accidents, according to the latest report by a university in the city.
University of Hong Kong (HKU) researchers found a growing number of children were seeking emergency services over the past decade and more.
Children from larger families, with less educated parents and a lower household income are more likely to get injured, they said.
The overall injury rate was lowest in the Central and Western districts, while the rate of falls was highest in Sai Kung – an area where the researchers believe more children engage in outdoor activities such as cycling.
The report also said about 30 to 50 per cent of such injury cases – which cost HK$13.6 million every year – were preventable.
Researchers said the study, which looked at child injury cases in 18 Hong Kong districts, would help policymakers home in on problems in each area and plan appropriate resources to lower the number of cases – for example, by advocating helmet use while cycling in Sai Kung.
“In the long run, a central database should be established [to ensure a] holistic understanding of child-related issues,” said Dr Patrick Ip Pak-keung, clinical associate professor of paediatric and adolescent medicine, who is one of the HKU researchers.
The researchers reviewed 742,552 cases of those aged between zero and 19 who registered at the accident and emergency departments between 2001 and 2012. They looked at causes of injuries, as well as their addresses.
Domestic accidents were found to be the leading cause of child injuries, followed by sports, common assault, traffic accidents, industrial accidents, self harm, abuse and indecent assault.
Meanwhile, Tai Po recorded the highest annual injury rate, followed by the Northern district.
HKU also noted the number of children seeking treatment for abuse or falls was growing.
About 3,700 child abuse cases were reported annually in the city, with the highest rate seen in Yuen Long. Hong Kong also recorded about 5,300 falls a year – 14 per cent, the highest proportion, of the children lived in Sai Kung.