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- Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
Content provided by British Council
Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:
 As the Hong Kong government puts forward more measures in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19, the perspective of child rights remains overlooked. Every aspect of children’s lives has been seriously disrupted during the pandemic, resulting in long-term negative impacts on their physical and mental health.
 The announcement of a long list of new measures in recent days has further disrupted their lives, school schedules and activities. This is particularly true for children with disabilities, special educational needs and mental health issues.
 While we understand the challenges on the front line in tackling the current wave of the pandemic, research findings as well as medical and psychological experts in Hong Kong and abroad clearly indicate that children can be traumatised by enforced separation from parents and being hospitalised alone. This can cause children to suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioural symptoms.
 However, recent reports indicate many hospitals can no longer allow parents to stay with sick children. This has caused anxiety for parents and children. The United Nations notes, “The Covid-19 pandemic has devastating ... consequences for children and their rights.” It is especially so in places with mandatory stay-at-home, lockdown or confinement measures, and for children in vulnerable situations.
 The UN has also urged governments to come up with better child protection plans. There is emerging evidence that violence against children in all forms is increasing, from domestic violence to online and offline exploitation as a result of changing social and economic circumstances.
 In Hong Kong, social workers and child protection groups have reported a rise in child abuse cases during the pandemic, with more children falling victim to neglect and harm. In 2021, the Social Welfare Department received 1,367 newly reported child abuse cases, compared to 940 cases in 2020 and 1,006 cases in 2019. Child abuse is likely under-reported as many remain undetected because of school closures.
 The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been in effect in Hong Kong since 1994. Children’s basic rights to education, protection, leisure and health, as well as the right to be with their parents, need to be honoured in good times as well as times of emergency, like now.
 The government needs to keep the community informed of its actions in upholding the rights of children and to provide prompt information and access to support for children and families caught in the midst of these challenges.
Letter written by Billy Wong, executive secretary, Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights
Source: South China Morning Post, March 2
Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.
Or play on your own below to test your understanding:
1. How have the Hong Kong government’s attempts to control the spread of Covid-19 affected children according to paragraph 1?
2. What measure is the focus of paragraphs 3 and 4, and how might that affect the city’s children? (2 marks)
3. What forms of violence against children are mentioned in paragraph 5?
4. Find words in the text that match the following definitions. (4 marks)
(i) an attempt to do something (paragraph 1)
(ii) required or mandatory (paragraph 3)
(iii) able to be easily hurt (paragraph 4)
(iv) to treat people unfairly to benefit from them (paragraph 5)
5. What reason is given in paragraph 6 for the lack of accurate figures for child abuse cases in Hong Kong?
6. What does the writer imply in paragraph 7 when he says, “Children’s basic rights ... need to be honoured in good times as well as times of emergency, like now”?
A. Children’s basic rights are currently not being upheld.
B. Some of these rights should be overlooked during a pandemic.
C. Children need to be educated about their basic rights.
D. There is little evidence that these rights are necessary.
7. Which of the following can replace “in effect” in paragraph 7?
A. in force
B. in use
C. in place
D. all of the above
8. Below are problems mentioned in the letter and articles from the children’s version of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Match each problem to the right that has been violated. (3 marks)
9. What is the reason for mentioning Billy Wong’s role and the organisation he works for at the end of the letter?
A. because he is a world-renowned child development expert
B. to convince readers that he cares about children’s rights
C. to show readers how his role informs his views
D. so readers can write back to him
1. It has resulted in long-term negative impacts on their physical and mental health.
2. It focuses on the government’s policy of separating sick children from their parents. This can cause children to suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioural symptoms.
3. domestic violence, as well as exploitation online and offline
4. (i) bid; (ii) enforced; (iii) vulnerable; (iv) exploitation
5. Because of school closures, many cases remain undetected, meaning the current figures likely do not reflect what is really happening.
8. (i) Article 23; (ii) Article 9; (iii) Article 19