"More time with children," KELY's call on the SCMP

29-07-2010

Parents must take time to talk with children

A 16-year-old student wanted to commit suicide after a row with her classmates. A 17-year-old student jumped to his death citing unhappiness and a couple, both aged 14, committed suicide.

These deaths, although shocking, offer a window on the lives of young Hongkongers over the past two months.

Paul Yip, head of the suicide research centre at the University of Hong Kong, has noted that youth suicides have gone up while overall the number of suicides has dropped. Youth suicide is a topic that exposes many layers and issues troubling society.

Some people argue that the suicide rate has gone up because of unbearable workloads at school and family pressure. Others cite drug abuse and lack of support from families and teachers as causal factors.

Recent research has shown that there are more divorces and incidences of domestic violence. A survey conducted last year showed children are the main victims and parents the most common abusers.

KELY Support Group has been working with young people for the past 19 years. We have found that youths in Hong Kong do not ask for much.

Many are seeking a warm and loving home environment where they can be heard without being judged, where their feelings can be validated and acknowledged, and where they can find positive solutions to their problems.

At KELY we try to provide a safe, non-judgmental, empathetic and confidential space for young people to address their issues.

We connect young people with their peers through positive interaction and encouragement.

Our bilingual helpline and texting service aims to offer emotional support for young people with various life problems, with various life problems, with suicide and drug abuse being our two biggest priorities.

While we believe that there are many young people who do not feel like talking to their parents about issues, it is crucial to recognize that parents have a central role to play.

Although many parents are already dealing with own daily struggles, we encourage them to take at least 10 minutes a day to sit down and really listen to their children, without judging and with an open mind.

If young people are indeed our greatest resource, we as a society need to ensure that future is worth investing in and that we are able to provide them with all the love, understanding and empathy they need.

In a caring society, it is our responsibility to help our young people help themselves to a brighter future.

Chung Tang
Executive Director
KELY Support Group

 
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