Letters to the Editor, December 28, 2017
Sex education should be compulsory
Adolescents are naturally curious about sex and are keen to learn more. Some now have quite open-minded views on the subject and what they look at has been changed by the growth of the internet.
The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong’s latest survey on youth sexuality earlier this year found that 59 per cent of boys and 33 per cent of girls in secondary schools had viewed explicit material. This was up 5 percentage points from 2011, when the last survey was done.
There are also concerns that junior secondary students are not getting the kind of sex education they need and so they have limited knowledge.
Of course adolescents will use the most convenient means available to get more information about sex and so they go online. Without the right kind of guidance they often go to pornographic websites which give them a distorted perception of sex.
This creates a strong impression on immature youngsters.
In effect, they are getting a false and what can be a damaging form of sex education on the internet. The resources are not being made available to provide them with the right kind of positive information which can help them make sensible decisions and avoid problems such as unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies.
Sex education must be compulsory in all of Hong Kong’s secondary schools and must be comprehensive. School heads cannot be allowed to simply pay lip service and offer a few classes. They have a responsibility to do their best to ensure that young couples do not make bad decisions that could affect the rest of their lives.
These classes with suitably qualified teachers would help pupils to make the right choices.
The government must decide to have mandatory sex education at the secondary level as soon as possible.
Kanagbo Mulee Amos, Tuen Mun
School bullying victims must get support
Bullying is a serious problem in schools and the government needs to be more aware of this. It must ensure that sufficient care and support are available to young victims of bullying.
This is an important mental health issue.
Bullying can have a profound and damaging effect on a young person and so the government must provide enough fully qualified counsellors for all its schools who can work intensively with the victims and help them recover from their traumatic experience.
The clear message must be delivered that there will be zero tolerance and that pupils who have been indentified as bullies will face appropriate punishment.
Abby Chan Cheuk-chi, Yau Yat Chuen
Country parks could ease housing stress
There has been a lot of discussion about the controversial proposal to use some country park land to build flats, to help deal with the city’s serious shortage of affordable housing.
There is not enough available land in Hong Kong so some country park land should be earmarked for this purpose.
There has also been talk about reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, but I think that a country park development strategy would be a better option.
Jessica Wong Tsz-yau, Kwai Tsing
Consider AI advances carefully
Interest is growing globally in the future development of artificial intelligence and what it could mean for humans. People discuss it frequently on social network sites like Facebook.
Although some people are worried about the negative impact AI could have on society, robotic technology, for example, is already helping on factory assembly lines where it can be used around the clock without a break, and eliminates the risk of human error.
AI can be used to make a swift and detailed diagnosis for some medical conditions, helping doctors to then decide on appropriate treatment.
Robots already enhance some surgical procedures and I believe that the use of AI in the field of medicine will greatly expand over the next 10 years to give physicians additional and invaluable help.
However, the rapid development of AI and the risks humans could face without tight controls is a worry. For example, autonomous weapons systems could wreak havoc in the wrong hands.
We will have to adapt to advances in AI, but we must take care when deciding how it can be used in society.
Lucky Wang, Tseung Kwan O
Flat-sharing plan a start for poor families
I welcome the decision by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to launch the Community Housing Movement.
Under this scheme more than 10 families will join a flat-sharing scheme at 53 renovated apartments in To Kwa Wan early next year.
Eventually, the plan is to provide accommodation to about 1,000 low-income families who have been on the public housing waiting list for more than three years and who live in substandard flats.
This is a short-term measure, but it is essential given that waiting lists for public housing are getting longer and so many residents must endure unsafe and unhygienic conditions in subdivided units.
These kinds of quick fixes, including converting container units, have been adopted in some cities in Europe which like Hong Kong have housing supply problems and they do make a difference.
This scheme can improve the quality of life for these families and the rents will be affordable.
Ruby Ho Sum-yu, Kwai Chung
Pre-fab homes would benefit more in need
I appreciate that the Community Housing Movement will, over the next three years, help around 1,000 low-income families, and provide them with a better living environment.
However, this is a small number of people when you consider how many residents have to put up with substandard conditions and it is not addressing the serious housing problem that we face.
Only about 500 empty flats will be part of the scheme and families who cannot join the scheme will continue to live in places like subdivided flats and are still waiting for help.
The government needs to find ways to rehouse far larger numbers of families and the best way to do this, in the short term, is to build a lot of prefabricated homes.
They can be put up quickly, are safe and hygienic and do not take up a lot of space.
Cindy Wong, Tseung Kwan O