Family life education programmes can help troubled youngsters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 9:18pm

I refer to the article by Paul Yip (“A caring, connected society will guard against suicide”, September 10).

It is very sad when people feel the need to commit suicide, especially in the case of children. Many people can take such action, not excluding professionals and those tasked to help including even psychiatrists.

It is notoriously difficult to detect early signs of suicidal tendencies. However the circumstances in which people may feel suicidal may be easier to understand. Relationship disconnection at a time of crisis is a major circumstance. People do not naturally rush to professionals for help. In schools social workers may be expected to undertake school programmes and, unless they are experienced family or counselling workers, may not develop the necessary relationships with students to create trust. Their academic training is basic, and appropriate professional supervision and post-academic training is needed.

Certainly traditional local emphasis on educational achievement combined with confusing educational policies have contributed to the problem.

So-called dysfunctional families do have too much to handle and need intensive support from professionals with the time and knowledge to help. However “suicidal” children come from all sorts of families involving common significant factors, pressure from parents and lack of understanding of their children’s emotions. There is much greater emotional distance.

What is needed is a thorough review of education to take account of the ability of children, and the unrealistic expectations put on parents by educational policies.

Parents are driven to put their children through competitive kindergartens and make outlays on extra money-making tutorial classes. Little time can be spent socially and emotionally communicating with their children.

Many students at college/university have lived with this pressure and traditional lack of parental or familial emotional understanding or support. Unfortunately some find the pressure without such understanding and support too much to bear, so we need to change mindsets.

From my knowledge, government departments rarely know how to develop cooperative projects. However, this is what is needed longer term in well-financed and supported family life education programmes in schools and the wider community at all levels, using the media, including traditional and new technology channels of communication.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai