Talking Points: Should students be punished for taking political action during school time?

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Students boycotted class urging the Hong Kong government to take action against climate change on March 15th.

Absolutely punishable. Since the law requires students to go to school, schools can typically discipline students for missing class. In my opinion, students should only talk about academic topics in school. Class time, teachers’s time and school resources are valuable which should not wasted. Besides, most of students are politically immature and do not fully understand the meaning and consequences of any political actions. Also, some students might used the action as an excuse to cut class. However, any disciplinary action for walking out should only be typical punishment and cannot be a response to the content of the protest.

Lee Cheuk-ling, 13, Fanling Rhenish Church Secondary School

Freedom plays an important role in our lives. But freedom does not play whole role in our lives. Nowadays many students take part in some political actions instead of studying at school.I think it is not a good way to show their views. The duty of a student is to study,not to take part in those political activities.You may say that every student have the freedom to take part in these activities.But what can they benefit from it,if they do not go to school they cannot continue their studies.So I think in order to let students focus on their studies,we should punish them who join the political actions during class time.

Eric Leung, 17, Fung Kai No.1 Secondary School

About 1,000 marched in HK's #ClimateStrike to demand stronger climate change action from the government

I think students should not be punished for taking political action such as the ‘2014 Umbrella Movement’ and ‘Hong Kong Independence’ during class time. In fact, we all have our own thoughts and it is unavoidable that we may make wrong decisions. However, it is obviously more important for teachers to teach us to know right from wrong. Do remember: punishment can’t solve all the problems, but peaceful communication and education matter in the long term.

Femi Wong Oi-laam, 12, Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School

No. Instead, I think schools should support the students who express their opinions. Today’s students are the pillars of the future society, so they have the right to make themselves heard and their views should be valued. In fact, it is encouraging to see students participate in the discussion of important issues such as climate change. Schools should take opportunities to educate students about various social issues as this can be very helpful to the personal development of our future generation.

Po Chin-lam, 16, Precious Blood Secondary School

I don’t think students should be punished. Students’ voices are needed and should be treasured as they can bring in new perspectives. Expressing their thoughts, on the other hand, should be encouraged instead of punished. However, they need to receive education on the responsibilities of being a citizen first. Taking political action during class time may not be the best time, but they certainly are encouraged to do so once they know the boundaries, rights and responsibilities.

Rachel Ho, 12, Maryknoll Convent School

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I think there should be a punishment for students who take political action during school time. Students are meant to be learning so they can become well-educated and mature individuals, not doing things that may get you into trouble. I don’t think youngsters are mature enough to take part in political activities like the umbrella movement, they tend to neglect the consequences and end up regretting taking part. This is why I think students should be punished if they take political action during classes.

Marco Ng, 16, Fung Kai No.1 Secondary School

I think students should be punished for taking political action during class time. They could just do it during the weekend or after school. Students can miss out on a lot if they miss even just one day of school. And if they fall behind that could give their teachers extra stress and that in turn could affect the students who do want to go to class. Also, there is a chance that students could get hurt at the protests. Who would be held responsible if something bad were to happen? I think students should be given a verbal warning or detention if they skip class to take political action.

Khan Bibi Aaisha, 14, Precious Blood Secondary School

Students around the world have been inspired by young activist like Greta Thunberg to push for legislative change. In the last few days, many people have asked whether schools should discipline students for speaking out. The short answer? It depends on when, where, and how the students decide to express themselves.

Howard Cheung Ho-lung, 13, Po Leung Kuk Lee Shing Pik College

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Certainly! Students should be gaining new knowledge and spending time with our friends, not participating in things like political action. Although we have the right and ability to do so, it is not the right time. We are too young to discuss political issues. Sometimes we don’t really understand things thoroughly, also don’t have the experience to discuss these things.

Zarah Yeung Cheuk-ying, 11, Sacred Heart Canossian School Private Section

Students should not be punished for taking political action during class time. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that student protests can cause a great impact. Take March For Our Lives for example, it was a student-led march for gun control in the United States which grew into one of the largest protests in American history. Another example would be the famous Tiananmen Square Massacre that happened on the mainland in 1989. It was a huge strike started by college students, which more than 1 million participants across the nation joined. Are these activities not valuable learning experiences? And why should we punish students for trying to make the world a better place?

Sabrina Sun, 12, Maryknoll Convent School

In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Should students be allowed to go on study leave earlier in the year to prepare for their DSEs?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to [email protected] by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda