First World Chinese Youth Forum

The long-awaited First World Chinese Youth Forum, co-organized by the Federation and the All-China Youth Federation, is scheduled for late September. The programme has met with very encouraging response from delegates, guest speakers and the Chinese community at large. We are very grateful to our official carrier, Dragonair, who have generously offered sponsorship in the form of discount air tickets for participants. We must also thank the Beijing China Study Public Management Consulting Co. Ltd and The Dragon Foundation for their valued sponsorship of the event. The Forum will bring together 1500 young delegates from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Mainland China and overseas. They will gather at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to discuss issues relating to the theme “New Opportunities in a Global Economy” led by renowned guest speakers. The meeting aims to nurture leadership potential and encourage mutual exchange by encouraging networking among youth of common ethnic Chinese origin.

Lecture Series on TV

The Federation and the University of Hong Kong co-organized the “Leaders to Leaders” Lecture Series in 2004. It comprised lectures by twelve well known Hong Kong figures such as Sir TL Yang who spoke on morality, Dr Eden Woon who lectured on successful enterprise and Dr Rosanna Wong who discussed giving back to society. The speakers shared their wide experience of their selected themes with the participants and such was the acclaim for the series that the Television Division of RTHK has produced an 8-part TV series from footage shot during the lectures. Broadcasting began on 13th September on ATV World and continues on Monday afternoons 12:30-1:00pm with repeat showings at 1:00p.m on the same channel on Wednesdays and Fridays. Given its warm reception the Federation plans to organize another similar series in 2005 beginning in February.
Click here for a full list of the 2004 speakers…

Night out at Youth Charity Concert

Without the generous help of such sponsors as the Hang Seng Bank, the Hong Kong Airport Authority, Gold Peak Industries (Holdings) Ltd, and the Yuen Yuen Institute, the Youth Charity Concert could not have been such a success. Their donations came at a crucial time for the future development of services for youth. The uplifting performances of cellist, Trey Lee; violinist, Elita Kang; pianist, Nancy Loo and vocalist, Karen Mok gave great pleasure to a virtually full house. Trey Lee treated the audience to a delightful selection of pieces including works by Beethoven (Variations on See the Conquering Hero Comes) Faure (Berceuse) and a Finnish song called Taysikuu (Full Moon), which was sung by Karen Mok. Click here to see a list of all our kind sponsors to whom we owe thanks.

How well do Hong Kong youth cope with stress? Stress is normal here, as it is everywhere, but according to a recent Federation survey less than 30% have problems learning how to deal with it. Half of those interviewed said they talk out their problems with peers and parents rather than seek professional help although nearly 60% admitted that they were unaware of the support services available. Cooperative support, already available at family, school and community level needs to be coordinated to give it a higher profile.



Dr. Rosanna Wong, DBE, JP

This is where government departments can step in, working with social services groups and following overseas experience in structuring a supportive environment for youth under severe pressure. That way the minority who need professional care will know they are not alone.
*Youth Study Series. How Hong Kong young people cope with stress. Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, September 2004.

May: a life back from the brink

Many young people feel down in the dumps from time to time, depressed and sad about confusing events in their lives, rebelling against parental control and plagued by the stress of conflicting emotional needs. These are fleeting problems for most but a small percentage suffer far more deeply. Their sense of worthlessness and discouragement may be caused by failure at school or by a distressing home life. They need help before their thoughts turn suddenly to drug abuse, criminal behaviour or suicide…

The Federation has school social workers in the field who work as counsellors, looking out for such youngsters, ideally catching them before they fall, providing care and follow up after a crisis and offering the two things they need most - understanding and compassion. Chan-ki is one such experienced, dedicated counsellor. She talked about working with May, a teenager who grew up with a physically abusive father and a mother whose support was tenuous at best. May trusted nobody by the time she met Chan-ki. In fact she spent half her time as a school dropout, feeling totally isolated.

Chan-ki May was in Form 4 when I first saw her. She’d developed symptoms of clinical depression after traumatic experiences at home. Her father gambled and became physically violent with her. The result was a very negative self-image. She started dropping out from class, suffering from delusions and imagined threats from her peers. She even carried a knife at school but was also threatening suicide. Her teacher referred her to a doctor, then a psychiatrist and psychological counsellor. Between them they worked out a special schedule to try to re-integrate May gradually into normal life at school and at home.

HKFYG Did you liaise with her schoolmates as well as her teachers?

Chan-ki Yes, I trained what we call an “angel” helper for her, a classmate who learned some of the simpler skills for dealing with depressives - how to deflect some of May’s most negative tendencies but also to know when not to argue with her. Her teachers needed advice too. They are crucial figures for a person like May and have to learn how to tread the thin line between being too kind and too authoritarian. I also had to teach her mother, who felt very guilty, how to talk to her and transfer guilt feelings into positive kindly activity.

HKFYG What form of therapy did May herself need?

Chan-ki She was on medication for a long time though she didn’t like it. Four or five times she called me, threatening to commit suicide but I managed to talk her through and get hold of the police who helped to prevent her. Twice she was hospitalized but in the long run she realized that she wanted to be normal and nobody but her could achieve that. She learned to trust me and to internalize strategies for coping long-term with her depression. Now she goes out every day without fear and I would like to think she is over the worst. I think of her as one of my successes but you can never be sure with someone like May. They could slip into depression again so very easily…

The Federation’s work continues and with counsellors like Chan-ki we will be able to concentrate increasingly on establishing early contact with students.
“I want to talk to them on the very first day of school”, said Chan-ki. “Once they know there is somebody close at hand they can turn to when they feel down it can make the difference between the occasional bout of the blues and contemplating suicide.”





















Teenage sex

The Department of Community and Family Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong recently released the results of a 1999 survey* on young Hong Kongers’ sex attitudes. 8,382 students aged 15-18 from 48 Hong Kong schools were interviewed. Only 5% reported they had been sexually active and nearly 17% of them – mostly boys - had been forced into it. The report shows a high correlation between sexually active females and attempted suicide. Both girls and boys in the group reported physical and psychological health problems and many had seen a doctor in the month before the survey. Males complained mostly of migraine or nervous disorders while females suffered largely from respiratory complaints. Emotional problems among sexually active teenagers are common worldwide but sex is a taboo subject for most Chinese adolescents. Effective sex education with better coordination among all relevant service units is clearly a top priority in Hong Kong.

*Aids Patient Care and STDs (2004) 18 (8), 470-480





Private tuition makes reading worse

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Education interviewed 4,300 Primary 4 students at 66 Hong Kong primary schools. They found that reading ability among the 43% who took private tuition after school was worse than that of counterparts who had no private classes. The researchers conclude that this is because tuition schools focus on homework and rote learning. They also say that students’ reading abilities could be improved if private tutors used story-telling which introduces much more vocabulary with wider-ranging content than textbooks. It also improves children’s comprehension skills. The photo shows a creativity class at a Youth SPOT where the opposite of rote learning takes place...



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