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Hong Kong’s proposed law on mandatory reporting of child abuse could be defined more broadly to include bullying that involves injury. Photo: Shutterstock

Letters | Hong Kong’s bill on reporting child abuse should include bullying

  • Readers discuss adding serious playground bullying to the proposed legislation on making reporting of child abuse mandatory, visa renewal procedures, the need for bus shelters, and how to revive the economy
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After reading the Post’s recent reports on the proposed law to make it mandatory for professionals such as teachers and social workers to report suspected cases of child abuse, I have a suggestion. Child abuse should be defined more broadly to include bullying that involves injury.

We tend to understand child abuse as referring to the act of an adult harming a child. This can lead an apathetic professional or parent to turn a blind eye to the same degree of injury to a child caused by their peers.

Bullying is often aggravated by inaction or omission by adults. In this sense, there is an equally compelling case to impose a responsibility on adults to intervene and protect.

The proposed child abuse law aims to motivate professionals to report cases of suspected child abuse. Yet, there can be many considerations that prevent the swift reporting of serious bullying, such as concern for the school’s reputation. Therefore, incentives are needed to prevent bullying.

Just as the proposed child abuse law takes into account the severity of abuse, the scope of bullying can cover situations where there is serious harm or an imminent risk of serious injury.

Suffer the children: abuse cases in Hong Kong up sharply during Covid-19 pandemic

Legislating on reporting child abuse is an important move that should be supported. It can also be controversial, given the legal obligations. I recently learned that there is, for example, a great deal of literature debating whether shaken baby syndrome can be medically validated in court. In contrast, injurious bullying involves no such controversy, and this invaluable opportunity for the legislature to cast a wider net should not be forgone.

Martin Kwan, Kennedy Town

Immigration staff should request documents with care

I am writing to complain about the runaround my domestic helper was subjected to when she turned up at the Immigration Department in Wan Chai on September 26. Her contract runs to November 2023, but her visa expires in less than two months. I thought this would be a routine straightforward procedure.

Apparently there is no walk- in visa service, but the department does cater to special cases depending on merit. That is understandable. My helper had an interview on September 28 with a certain consulate for a visitor’s visa, and so she urgently needed to extend her stay in Hong Kong. She was asked for proof of the interview and gave the immigration officer the necessary paper.

But then she was also asked to provide an air ticket and a supporting letter from me. I had no problem submitting the letter of support, though I found it irrelevant to her visa application as I had filed the official form and another letter stating she is still under my employ.

However, I was very surprised when she was asked to submit a letter stating she was planning the trip of her own volition. My helper spent a good day and a half running around. I hope the department will look into this and train its staff to ask bona fide applicants only for relevant documents and letters.

S. Lin, Tai Po

More coordination needed to make taking a bus enjoyable

In “Let’s keep kids at bus stops safe from heat” ( September 26), Jameson Gong asks why there are no bus shelters in front of schools. In Tai Po, the district council built a bus shelter about 50 metres from a school on Chong San Road opposite Providence Bay. However, the Transport Department designated the KMB bus stop to be an additional 30 metres further away from the bus shelter.

To prevent a waste of resources, either the KMB bus stop should be moved to the bus shelter or the bus shelter moved to Pok Fu Lam to aid Mr Gong.

District councils, the Transport Department and bus companies should all be working together to make taking the bus a more enjoyable experience, starting with shelters. These are in really short supply along Chong San Road as a whole.

Neil Dunn, Kowloon Tong

Should Hong Kong lean into the new economy?

Today, there is much discussion on how Hong Kong can revive its economic growth. New economy businesses that rely on the internet and advances in technology might start small, but they can achieve sustained and healthy growth. Airbnb, for example, became a platform for travellers everywhere to find affordable short-term rentals around the world.
In Hong Kong, the Covid-19 pandemic has helped drive the development of telemedicine, which can be a viable solution to a lack of healthcare access. These new industries can attract investment and help refine existing business models. With support from the government, Hong Kong can grab opportunities in the field early and open up new markets, improving its competitiveness vis-à-vis neighbouring economies.
In the long run, this can help the city diversify its economy and reduce its overreliance on the traditional pillar industries of financial services, tourism, trading and logistics, and professional and producer services.

Nonetheless, emerging industries could also pose a threat to society as they often involve the use of advanced technology. For instance, self-driving cars could become involved in accidents, drones could crash, the collection of data could lead to privacy-related lawsuits and doctors seeing patients over the internet rather than in person could be prone to misdiagnosis. These problems must not be overlooked.

Meanwhile, these new businesses will have an impact on traditional ones, which could be forced to restructure or face closure. Without sufficient labour policy support, radical changes of the economic model might provoke structural unemployment.

Adrian Lam, Tai Koo