PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 12:00am

Q Should a child's appearance be a factor in an underage sex case?

Child sexual abuse is not caused by children, it is caused by perpetrators. As long as we continue to find excuses that validate the perpetrator's own distorted justifications, we are siding with those who choose to prey on the most vulnerable members of our society.

It seems that we would rather fulfil our need to believe that our children are safe by hanging on to our illusion that sexual abuse happens to children because of their behaviour or their appearance.

So the myth tells us, if we can pinpoint what it was in the abused child's behaviour, or appearance, that we can blame, then we don't have to worry about our own children because we can teach them to avoid this or that. The reality is that the majority of predators live unnoticed in our homes and in our communities. They are known to us and to our children. They are trusted by us and our children.

Our primary defence is to educate ourselves about the modus operandi of perpetrators who prey on children. Perpetrators' tactics have been well-documented for many years now.

Child sexual abuse will continue until we, as adults, accept that it is our responsibility to keep our community safe for our children. And when we fail, we all need to take responsibility. It is not the child's fault.

Trisha Leahy, Sai Kung

Q Should public tenants be allowed to keep pets?

I refer to messages from your readers relating to keeping pets on public housing estates. The Housing Department would like to thank readers for their generous views and comments.

We are and will be listening to them in the coming two months, during which a grace period has been extended for the implementation of a marking scheme on the allotment of penalty points to tenants keeping pets in their homes.

During this time, the department also will be keeping in touch with various parties and concern groups to listen to their views directly.

The department recognises the importance of the issue to pet lovers as well as to public housing tenants who are in support of the Housing Authority's stance of not allowing the keeping of pets on densely populated estates. We hope the grace period will allow the community to have a thorough debate on the issue before a conclusion is drawn.

We would like to assure members of the public that all views will be carefully considered and the authority, as a responsible landlord, will strive to strike a reasonable balance between the need to ensure good public hygiene and the individual needs of those who require the companionship of their pets.

Lau Kai-hung, Housing Department

On other matters...

As a member of the world community, I am both outraged and saddened by a recent news report carried in the United States regarding the fashion company and its line of Nazi-themed clothing available in Hong Kong.

It appears that the company's executives have forgotten about the humanitarian atrocities committed by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.

Not only did six million Jews perish at the hands of the Third Reich and their supporters; millions more Christians, homosexuals, gypsies and pagans were put to death because they did not fit into Hitler's ideal of a 'perfect race'.

Musicians, scholars, politicians, writers, homemakers and ordinary citizens were slaughtered in the name of 'purity' - who knows what we have lost, what breakthroughs and beauty have been thwarted?

The Nazi symbols used by to promote its line of clothing are nothing less than an abhorrent, wistful look back at what executives may easily consider the good old days.

Human atrocities continue to this day throughout the world: Chechnya, the former Yugoslav republics, the Middle East and, indeed, even in my own country. The continued existence of such nationalism and hatred prove that we, as citizens of this planet, have much work to do. is not helping to curtail such horrors. I implore the residents of Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China to boycott clothing produced and/or marketed by I implore the administrative government to force this clothing line into extinction.

Most of all, I implore every human being to remember ... and to act.

Joshua Buland, New York

I refer to the article 'More teenagers obsessed by their weight' (South China Morning Post, August 4). I am very pleased finally to see some mention of this serious issue in the Hong Kong press.

As a teacher in a secondary school, I can certainly testify to the obsession Hong Kong teenagers have with body image, which has led to very serious health and psychological problems in some cases.

I feel this obsession is constantly reinforced in the advertising bombardment that we are subjected to in cinemas, on television and in all the printed media directed at this demographic target. We even have some so-called cosmetics firms pushing miracle products on teenagers.

The only reason to lose weight is for health reasons. We should do all we can to protect our teenagers and to educate them in healthy eating and exercise, not push miracle chemical panaceas on them. I should point out that the miracle products advert was in your newspaper. Any chance of a change in policy?

J. Martin, Ho Man Tin