No excuse for abuse of the vulnerable in Hong Kong

Protecting the weak and underprivileged should be a priority in a caring society like ours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 10:52pm

Abusing the vulnerable is unacceptable, even more so for people in positions of trust and authority. Although laws and institutional safeguards are put in place to protect those who cannot take care of themselves, abuse cases do happen from time to time. The latest incident involving caregivers allegedly assaulting two autistic persons in a residential care home underlines the need for more vigilance and supervision.

The accusations against a group of workers at the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council Harmony Manor are serious. They allegedly tortured the residents by repeatedly sticking packing tape on their bodies and tearing it off. The care home confirmed in a press statement that abuse had been involved. The case is being investigated by the police. The government has also demanded a report from the institution.

READ MORE: Police probe: Caregivers at Hong Kong home accused of sticking tape on autistic resident’s nipples

The way the incident came to light also calls for concern. It was brought to media attention after a complaint to the institution’s management by other staff members did not result in any action, according to a labour union. It remains unclear whether this was the case. Industry representatives say that some institutions may turn a blind eye to abuses as manpower shortages make dismissal and replacement difficult. The government should look into the matter if it is true.

Assaulting the innocent is also found in other sectors. Earlier, a teacher at a primary school for children with special needs was sentenced to 10 months in jail for spraying alcoholic cleansing liquid into the faces of seven pupils. Anyone who has seen the footage, captured by a hidden camera and presented in court, would be appalled. The teacher has lodged an appeal.

Protecting the weak and underprivileged should be a priority in a caring society like Hong Kong. It is a breach of trust for caregivers and teachers to mistreat the vulnerable under their care and duty. While law and punishment can bring justice and redress, the authorities need to step up supervision lest abuses be swept under the carpet.