To prevent child abuse in Hong Kong, everyone should play their part
The recent spate of child abuse cases in Hong Kong will have saddened and shocked many readers, who will wonder how some parents could be heartless enough to inflict pain on their defenceless, innocent children.
Although media coverage of cases may raise public awareness of the prevalence of child abuse for a short while, nipping it in the bud requires perennial efforts on the part of everyone in society.
Raising a child is a lifelong commitment, so it’s certainly not a task for an immature couple. Adults should assess whether they have the support system necessary to provide a safe, caring environment conducive to child growth. Any couple lacking the maturity, knowledge and emotional stability needed to bring up a child should abandon the idea of conceiving one.
If the birth of a child is the result of an unexpected pregnancy, the couple should discuss whether they are ready to shoulder the responsibility of raising a kid. The option of putting the child up for adoption is always on the table if they deem themselves unfit to be parents.
Neighbours usually can detect early signs of child abuse, since they live in proximity to abusive parents. If they spot any unusual signs such as kids’ constant screaming and bruises on their bodies, they should consider asking for others to intervene. The Chinese custom that one shouldn’t stick your nose in other people’s business is not helping in the prevention of child abuse. Sometimes, a swift decision is all it takes to get a child out of their misery.
Schoolteachers and social workers should pay attention to pupils who may be subject to physical abuse at the hands of parents.
Quick referrals should be made to the Social Welfare Department if such cases warrant intervention from experts, and help from the police should be sought in serious cases.
Fine-tuning the existing notification and referral mechanism and guidelines in handling suspected child abuse is necessary so that abused children can get the help they need. Certainly, we don’t want to see a delay in assistance for an abused child owing to confusion, inaction or misunderstandings. Timely referrals are the key to saving a child.
It requires the concerted efforts of the family, school, society and the government to stop child abuse, so we should play our respective parts to eradicate it once and for all.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai