BOYS are less popular in class than girls, and more boys face rejection than girls. These were two findings of a survey on the social relationship of primary pupils. Parents and teachers are urged to use different approaches to handle the special difficulties facing children. The survey was conducted by the Centre for Child Development, Hong Kong Baptist College, with a $310,000 grant from the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee (UPGC). A report will be published soon. The survey interviewed 313 boys and 319 girls in Primary 5, who were then categorised into five groups: the most popular, the rejected (the least popular), the neglected, the controversial (children who were both liked and disliked by classmates) and theaverage. Results showed that 23.5 per cent of the girls were rated in the ''popular group'', compared with 19.1 per cent of the boys. While only 10 per cent of girls belonged to the ''rejected group'', it had 24.2 per cent of the boys. This was the largest difference between the sexes in all the categories. However, more girls than boys thought they were neglected. Over 27 per cent of the girls said so, compared with 16.2 per cent of the boys. The survey concluded that both boys and girls had different difficulties building good interpersonal relationships and handling problem-solving strategies. ''Generally speaking, girls are more passive and timid, and this affected their being accepted and their popularity. Teachers and parents have to encourage them to show more initiative and be bold in expressing their thoughts. ''Boys, however, are more active and energetic. They often cause trouble, which results in their being rejected by peers. Teachers and parents have to teach them to be more patient. ''Every child wants to be accepted and liked by peers. It is the responsibility of adults to teach and help children in their social development,'' the survey said. The director of the centre, Dr Lau Sing, said the survey, started a year ago, was aimed at investigating the self-perception of primary school children. ''Hong Kong lacks surveys of this kind and, particularly, on primary school pupils. Most attention are given to secondary or tertiary school students. ''Many young children have talents but their potential failed to be unearthed because of the lack of special education tailored for them,'' said Dr Lau, who is also head of the college's Department of Education Studies. In a bid to understand more about primary school pupils, Dr Lau said his centre would conduct two more research projects on creativity and suicidal tendencies. The surveys, costing over $1 million, will again be funded by the UPGC. They will start in the new school year and will be completed within two years. Meanwhile, Dr Lau will give a presentation on ''Perception of Creativity by Peers and Teachers, and its Relations to Social Status'' at the 10th World Congress on Gifted and Talented Education in Toronto, Canada, which starts on on Sunday.