Most young people have a long way to go before they can claim to be of good character, says the Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association. For starters, they might consider quitting swearing in public. According to a survey conducted by the association, one in four young people often or sometimes swears in public. And about a third never or rarely give up their seats on a train or bus for someone else. This was troubling news, said YWCA social work supervisor Li Wing-sze, who supervised the survey and promotes 'character education' in schools. 'We found that 70 per cent of youths do not exhibit courteous behaviour,' she said. 'This is the same as last year's survey. There has been no improvement.' The association interviewed 2,376 people aged eight to 26 in March and April about their behaviour at home, at school and in public. Among the questions used to judge whether young people were courteous, respondents were asked whether they said 'thank you' to their parents, teachers and classmates. Respondents also had to indicate whether they dropped litter in public and did chores at home. More than half of those interviewed, 53 per cent, said they never littered in public. But only 17 per cent said they often helped others in public. Only a third said they often thanked their parents or said 'hello' to them. However, about half of them said they often said 'hello' or 'thank you' to their peers and classmates. Ms Li said society's focus on success and results was one reason for the lack of courtesy exhibited by young people. 'Students are praised for receiving good grades, but there is not much attention paid to the process,' she said. 'We should also reward them for good behaviour during the process.' One place to start was at home. Ms Li said parents should encourage good behaviour by setting a good example with the way they acted. For example, they should not swear in front of their children. The respondents acknowledged there was not enough education promoting good character, though most of them said they received such education at school. The YWCA created a working group on the promotion of character education in 2006. The group visits secondary schools, and conducts sessions with students to encourage them to act ethically and responsibly.