Hong Kong schools

Kindergarten and primary schoolteachers in Hong Kong to get training to deal with child abuse cases

Move comes after string of recent reported cases, prompting calls for more awareness among educators and carers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 8:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 8:03am

Kindergarten and primary schoolteachers in Hong Kong will be trained to deal with child abuse cases in light of a recent wave of reports that have sparked concern in the city.

On Tuesday, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung announced that four seminars, jointly organised by the Education Bureau, Social Welfare Department and police, would be held for teachers and principals from next week.

“We hope that these seminars can help kindergarten and primary schoolteachers understand how and why these incidents are happening, and how early intervention can prevent them from happening again,” Yeung said on the sidelines of an education forum at Lingnan University.

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The bureau will send invitations for up to 1,500 representatives to attend the seminars.

Educational psychologists and various frontline experts will teach and advise educators on how to identify signs from pupils who may be victims, as well as how they should respond to a case of suspected abuse.

“We noticed that various sectors in society have become more aware of such incidents, as more reports of suspected cases have surfaced recently. But we believe that one of the key points to work on in future is how to make teachers and the community more alert about such issues,” Yeung said.

He added he was saddened by the recent death of Chan Sui-lam, a five-year-old girl who was repeatedly thrown at the ceiling and poked in the chest with scissors. Her father, 26, a transport worker, and stepmother, 27, were charged with murder.

Soon after Chan’s case came to light on January 6, four incidents of abuse were reported to police in three days.

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Between January and September last year, 704 cases – an average of 78 a month – were flagged to authorities, more than the monthly average of between 71 and 74 in the three preceding years.

Latest available full-year figures show 892 cases were reported to the Child Protection Registry in 2016, compared with 874 in 2015 and 856 in 2014.

In more than half of these cases, the abusers were parents, but other common perpetrators included friends of the family and unrelated people.

Yeung also said he would work closely with the Social Welfare Department to review if improvements were needed in the reporting system.

On Sunday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong pledged to seek improvements to the system for flagging child abuse.

Such upgrades include the possibility of making it mandatory for schools, social workers and medical staff to report cases of suspected abuse as well as requiring the stationing of at least one social worker in each school.