The latest crime statistics show that for a busy, crowded city, Hong Kong remains a relatively safe place in which to live and raise a family. But big increases in cases of domestic violence and the use of so-called party drugs show the institution of the family itself is not faring so well. A rise of more than 100 per cent in domestic violence cases in the first half of the year raises disturbing questions. If it can be put down at least partly to improved reporting mechanisms, a greater willingness by victims to come forward and a more proactive response by police and social workers, then changed community attitudes have forced a sensitive social question into the open. Director of Crime and Security John Lee Ka-chiu points out that family violence is a complex issue that can be triggered by minor disputes. The fact remains that tragic and shocking cases still occur in distressed families that are not unknown to the authorities. The government has taken some positive steps, but there is still much to be done to address contributing factors such as poverty and isolation, particularly in new towns without adequate community facilities and support services. The drug statistics provide more evidence of the insidious spread among young people of party drugs. A youth outreach team leader warns that young people are not only to be found taking drugs at entertainment venues, but at home and school, in public housing estates and parks. Sadly, social workers say youth drug use is all too often associated with pressures on families - such as parents working long hours to achieve financial goals - study and work problems, boredom and discontentment. Such problems make young people vulnerable to temptation and peer pressure to use drugs. Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong has promised to work with teachers, social workers and non-governmental organisations to step up anti-drugs education. Some schools and parents are concerned that discussing the dangers of drugs with children may have the unintended effect of stimulating an interest in using them. But education remains better than leaving it to chance.