He has sold pirate VCDs, trafficked soft drugs, skipped lessons, and hit his teachers. But life has changed since the 16-year-old was transferred to Salesians of Dan Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School. 'When I did not come to school, my form teacher always called me and asked me why. She never gave up,' said Nic, now a Form Two student in the boy's school, which he joined last summer after being asked to leave his previous school as he got into serious trouble with teachers. 'No one used to care for me before then. I used to go to lesson only once in four weeks, but now I come here every day because I like the school, even though it is a boy's school.' Nic grew up surrounded by violence. He has spent the past few years running away from his father, a drug addict who would abuse his family when he lost his temper. 'I hate seeing needles in the washroom, and hearing my father asking for money to buy drugs,' he said. Nights were spent roaming the streets, making money somehow and hoping to live alone, away from his troubled family. Amy Yau, the form teacher of Nic, noticed that he was always withdrawn and unhappy when he joined her class last summer. She initiated contacts with his family together with the school's principal and social worker, and arranged for Nic to live in a youth hostel in November when his father threatened Nic and his mother with a knife. 'The boy has been living under the shadow of his father, and that's why he has given up on himself and done badly in school,' said Ms Yau. She convinced his father to move out and Nic is living with his mother and family again. He works part-time after school to help bring extra dollars to his family, but still manages to perform well in studies. 'He was the fourth of his class in the last exam, and I know he can make it to the top in the coming one,' said Ms Yau. 'It brings me great satisfaction to see such a brilliant and kind-hearted kid back on the right track again.' Nic said he wanted to enter university and become an interior designer: 'In the past, I saw no hope, and no directions. I agreed to continue studies only to please my mother. But now I want to have a better future and provide for the people who are important to me.' Ms Yau, who had been teaching at the school for 12 years, said Nic was only one of the many young borderline people in society: 'By encouragement and caring they can turn back, but one more push they will step over the line and become juvenile delinquents. 'The competitive mainstream education system would only reinforce the sense of being rejected. They need schools that don't aim at training them to be exam winners but help them see themselves as individuals worthy of love, respect and a future.'