'I hope there will be no violence in my family. That's my Children's Day wish,' says Ah Keung, an 11-year-old boy who has suffered from domestic violence. Ah Keung (not his real name) says he doesn't have a lot of friends at school, and he rarely shares his problems with other people because he is afraid that doing so will make him 'lose face'. It is the same situation for David (not his real name), 13, whose elder brother and father constantly get into fights at home. 'I would hide whenever they were fighting,' says David. 'I was scared. I was afraid that more family members or that I would get hurt.' This is the situation faced by the many children who suffer from family violence in Hong Kong, a problem that has grown more severe in recent years. Harmony House, a non-governmental community education and resource centre that supports victims of domestic violence, conducted a survey of 1,068 Primary Three students - most of them in Tin Shui Wai - from September to December last year. The results show that over 50 per cent of the students had been unhappy at some time, and that family was a major source of their frustration. However, only 22 per cent of the affected students said they would like to express their emotions or were willing to share problems with teachers or social workers. 'These figures are alarming,' says Margaret Wong Fung-yee, executive director of Harmony House. 'About half of the children have family problems, and only a few would be willing seek help and talk to people about their problems. A lot of problems will therefore remain unaddressed.' The survey also found that 48 per cent had heard and witnessed their parents having a row, and 22 per cent had seen or heard them fighting physically with each other. In addition, 29 per cent of the children felt emotionally hurt by clashes taking place at home. Ah Keung, who now lives with his mother and brother, recalled an incident during which his father beat his mother publicly at a train station due to a minor problem regarding train fares. He cried in desperation, but his parents didn't stop fighting. 'I don't like my father,' says Ah Keung, who would be beaten by his father when he lost money betting on horses. David, whose family no longer lives together, says he was afraid of both his father and his brother. His brother would occasionally vent his frustrations by hitting him. 'I was angry with them. They fought frequently and that made us [my mother and I] very sad,' he said. He added that family problems would, to a certain extent, affect his studies at school. Ms Wong says that domestic violence often has a negative impact on children's growth and development. 'During one activity, children were asked to use paper cuttings to express ideas about their family. One boy cut out a dinosaur, which was very ugly. He said the dinosaur was his father.' To help children voice their frustrations and feelings, Harmony House has set up a hotline for children aged between six and 10. The service is called Bunny Hears, and it was officially launched on Children's Day (April 4) last week. The hotline service (2751 8822) operates from 9am to 9pm and includes news announcements, storytelling, music and voicemail sharing. Counselling by social workers and volunteers is also available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4.30pm until 7pm. 'Often, children don't know where to find help ... or maybe they feel scared when the mother is in hospital or all the things in the house are broken,' says Ms Wong. 'They don't know who to trust or who to share their feelings with. 'We hope the hotline will give children an opportunity to express themselves, as well as raise concern about these issues.'