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  Written by: Donna Wong, Director of Against Child Abuse

  Translated by: Stacy Mosher

 

 

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

 

Every child is precious and unique. They are independent individuals and the future of our society. Their rights should be respected and their voices should be heard....we hope the government and all segments of society will continue to join hands in building a caring and safe environment where our children can grow.

 

 

My first contact with Against Child Abuse (ACA) was in 1983. As a middle school student, I went to ACA’s office in Choi Wan Estate to carry out an interview for an opinion paper. My impressions from the interview have blurred over time, but the folder of documents and photographs on child abuse remain fresh in my memory. Looking at photos of injuries inflicted on children, mostly by parents or other family members, was terribly shocking to a middle school student, and I felt sad and perplexed. Although at that time corporal punishment was widely accepted as a way to control children’s behaviour, the truth is that inflicting violence on children not only violates the principles and true meaning of discipline, but may even teach children to repay violence with violence and have a profound effect on their physical and mental growth and development. I believe that all parents hope for their children to grow up healthy and happy, so why do people injure their children this way? Whatever their marital problems, childhood experience, or work or living pressures, no one should take out their frustrations on children. Child abuse is more than a family problem; it is a social problem, and the roots of the problem must be faced and examined head-on if we are to devise ways to deal with it.

 

After more than ten years in the education field, I was keen to apply my knowledge and experience to social work. Since having the good fortune to join ACA in 2009, I have been striving to protect children along with my dedicated and zealous colleagues. Our staff is small – even as our services continue to expand, our team has only 35 people – but we put an emphasis on the quality of our services and on team spirit. Apart from discussing the past year’s services and future plans during staff retreats, we regularly hold meetings for the entire organization and its various service groups in order to enhance team spirit, encourage exchanges and share experience, and build an open, trusting and mutually supportive work environment.

 

ACA began its operations with a telephone hotline, and since 1982 it has launched case counselling, small-group work, and education and prevention programmes. After 40 years of development under the guidance of the executive committee and the efforts of our colleagues, ACA has laid a foundation in child protection services, and has continued to provide timely services to Hong Kong’s children and their families through preventing child abuse, protecting children, counselling, remedial treatment and advocacy.

 


 

Child Protection Institute

 

Since 2013, ACA’s Child Protection Institute has been providing professional training for various organisations, groups and schools, advocating for child protection policies, and hosting an array of courses and activities for parents and children. It provides training for more than 5,000 people every year.

 

Volunteer Home Visitation Service for Families with Newborn

 

Learning from successful experiences abroad, the ACA has been using a volunteer-assisted social worker intervention model in its innovative home visitation plan for families with newborn infants. Two research studies have confirmed that this service model is an effective strategy to alleviate the exhaustion and pressure felt by expectant or new parents, provide families with information on positive parenting and community resources, and reduce crisis factors to prevent abuse. With the support of various sponsoring organizations, ACA currently provides this family visitation service in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai, Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Kwai Chung and other districts. The selfless effort and dedication of our project volunteers has allowed us to serve more than 2,500 families.

 

Hotline and Consultation Service

 

The ACA’s parent-child support telephone hotline and consultation service provides a channel for members of the public to report cases of suspected child abuse, provides emotional support to children, answers parents’ questions about discipline, and provides consultation service to professionals on handling child abuse cases. When ACA receives a case of suspected child abuse through the hotline, it sends two outreach social workers to investigate, evaluate the risk of child abuse, and quickly formulate an intervention plan. To date, the ACA has received 28,320 calls on its hotline and has investigated 4,374 cases.

 

Counselling and Remedial Treatment

 

If investigation indicates that a case involves parental discipline, parent-child communication or children’s emotional problems, we provide case counselling with the family’s consent. To date we have served a total of 5,188 families. ACA also uses small-group work to provide case counselling to parents with discipline or emotional problems, as well as children with emotional problems due to family factors. We have provided 57,700 casework encounters to date.

 

Advocacy

 

Advocacy is one of ACA’s most important roles. Moving forward on this endless journey requires steadfast conviction and the support of partners and stakeholders in a concerted effort to protect the welfare and interests of children. Over the past 40 years, ACA has seen the government promote the protection of children through the establishment of a dedicated child protection unit, revise laws, establish a Children’s Commission, train professional staff, and sign and discuss procedures to handle child abuse cases. In order for children to obtain even more comprehensive protection, however, we need to formulate child welfare policies and laws based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

Fig.1 : Leisure Corner for Families

Fig.2 : Volunteer Home Visitation

Fig.3 : Positive Parenting Training

Fig. 4: Remedial Treatment for Children 

 


 

Kwai Chung Centre five-year plan

 

The number of child abuse cases in Kwai Tsing district has been increasing in recent years. The district has many low-income, single-parent and new-arrival families who need timely support to reinforce the family function. The Fu Tak Iam Foundation provided financial support to ACA to establish its Kwai Chung Centre in 2016, and in early 2019 extended its support into a five-year plan for a Child Abuse Treatment Corner. The Treatment Corner provides the district’s families with comprehensive child protection services, including home visitation to families with newborn infants, crisis intervention, casework and therapeutic groups, etc. The case below vividly demonstrates the service’s effectiveness in prevention and remedial treatment.

 

Ah-Fan (pseudonym) has one son and one daughter. After the children began attending elementary school, she constantly beat and scolded them over homework, squabbling or other such problems, and the parent-child relationship became strained. Ah-Fan says that after striking and scolding her children, she suffered from headaches, chest pains and even insomnia. Ah-Fan felt that the situation had become unbearable, and she hoped a social worker could help her improve her relationship with her children.

 

Through cognitive behavioural therapy, Ah-Fan discovered that she has many irrational ideas about her children, for example: She believes that if her children don’t study hard, they won’t be able to find good jobs in future and will only be manual labourers like her; she also feels that her children could do better, but aren’t trying hard enough. These irrational ideas affected the relationship between Ah-Fan and her children, and every time the children’s behaviour didn’t meet her expectations and demands, she would fly into a range, striking and scolding them. After undergoing therapy, Ah-Fan understands that her irrational thinking made her see only her children’s negative behaviour. Now when the children make her angry, she cools down and turns off her negative thinking, and tries to face her conflict with her children in a more positive light and communicate with them. Ah-Fan is better able to understand her children’s needs and thinking, and her relationship with them has markedly improved.

 


 

Hong Kong society has made progress over the past decades in many respects, but opinions still diverge on the child abuse issue. Although professionals and members of the general public alike have a low tolerance for physical abuse, they are still not fully prepared for a total ban on corporal punishment of children, which remains widespread in the home. Frequent cases of child suicide, sexual violation, neglect, severe abuse and even death tell us that our current laws, system, measures and services are not yet adequate to keep children out of harm’s way.

 

We will continue to actively submit position papers to the government on comprehensive legislation against corporal punishment, children’s mental health, infant care services, establishing a critical case discussion mechanism, supporting groups at risk, focusing on the needs of impoverished children, establishing a central database and sex crimes registry, and carrying out parent education and comprehensive sex education, in the hope that Hong Kong will have a long-range child abuse prevention policy in the near future.

 

Every child is precious and unique. They are independent individuals and the future of our society. Their rights should be respected and their voices should be heard. Children’s healthy development and growth should be the responsibility of all of society, and we hope the government and all segments of society will continue to join hands in building a caring and safe environment where our children can grow.

 


 

Editor's notes: This ariticle is aslo published in the 40th Anniversary Commemorative Publication of Against Child Abuse.

  Written by: Donna Wong, Director of Against Child Abuse

  Translated by: Stacy Mosher

 

 

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

 

Every child is precious and unique. They are independent individuals and the future of our society. Their rights should be respected and their voices should be heard....we hope the government and all segments of society will continue to join hands in building a caring and safe environment where our children can grow.

 

 

My first contact with Against Child Abuse (ACA) was in 1983. As a middle school student, I went to ACA’s office in Choi Wan Estate to carry out an interview for an opinion paper. My impressions from the interview have blurred over time, but the folder of documents and photographs on child abuse remain fresh in my memory. Looking at photos of injuries inflicted on children, mostly by parents or other family members, was terribly shocking to a middle school student, and I felt sad and perplexed. Although at that time corporal punishment was widely accepted as a way to control children’s behaviour, the truth is that inflicting violence on children not only violates the principles and true meaning of discipline, but may even teach children to repay violence with violence and have a profound effect on their physical and mental growth and development. I believe that all parents hope for their children to grow up healthy and happy, so why do people injure their children this way? Whatever their marital problems, childhood experience, or work or living pressures, no one should take out their frustrations on children. Child abuse is more than a family problem; it is a social problem, and the roots of the problem must be faced and examined head-on if we are to devise ways to deal with it.

 

After more than ten years in the education field, I was keen to apply my knowledge and experience to social work. Since having the good fortune to join ACA in 2009, I have been striving to protect children along with my dedicated and zealous colleagues. Our staff is small – even as our services continue to expand, our team has only 35 people – but we put an emphasis on the quality of our services and on team spirit. Apart from discussing the past year’s services and future plans during staff retreats, we regularly hold meetings for the entire organization and its various service groups in order to enhance team spirit, encourage exchanges and share experience, and build an open, trusting and mutually supportive work environment.

 

ACA began its operations with a telephone hotline, and since 1982 it has launched case counselling, small-group work, and education and prevention programmes. After 40 years of development under the guidance of the executive committee and the efforts of our colleagues, ACA has laid a foundation in child protection services, and has continued to provide timely services to Hong Kong’s children and their families through preventing child abuse, protecting children, counselling, remedial treatment and advocacy.

 


 

Child Protection Institute

 

Since 2013, ACA’s Child Protection Institute has been providing professional training for various organisations, groups and schools, advocating for child protection policies, and hosting an array of courses and activities for parents and children. It provides training for more than 5,000 people every year.

 

Volunteer Home Visitation Service for Families with Newborn

 

Learning from successful experiences abroad, the ACA has been using a volunteer-assisted social worker intervention model in its innovative home visitation plan for families with newborn infants. Two research studies have confirmed that this service model is an effective strategy to alleviate the exhaustion and pressure felt by expectant or new parents, provide families with information on positive parenting and community resources, and reduce crisis factors to prevent abuse. With the support of various sponsoring organizations, ACA currently provides this family visitation service in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai, Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Kwai Chung and other districts. The selfless effort and dedication of our project volunteers has allowed us to serve more than 2,500 families.

 

Hotline and Consultation Service

 

The ACA’s parent-child support telephone hotline and consultation service provides a channel for members of the public to report cases of suspected child abuse, provides emotional support to children, answers parents’ questions about discipline, and provides consultation service to professionals on handling child abuse cases. When ACA receives a case of suspected child abuse through the hotline, it sends two outreach social workers to investigate, evaluate the risk of child abuse, and quickly formulate an intervention plan. To date, the ACA has received 28,320 calls on its hotline and has investigated 4,374 cases.

 

Counselling and Remedial Treatment

 

If investigation indicates that a case involves parental discipline, parent-child communication or children’s emotional problems, we provide case counselling with the family’s consent. To date we have served a total of 5,188 families. ACA also uses small-group work to provide case counselling to parents with discipline or emotional problems, as well as children with emotional problems due to family factors. We have provided 57,700 casework encounters to date.

 

Advocacy

 

Advocacy is one of ACA’s most important roles. Moving forward on this endless journey requires steadfast conviction and the support of partners and stakeholders in a concerted effort to protect the welfare and interests of children. Over the past 40 years, ACA has seen the government promote the protection of children through the establishment of a dedicated child protection unit, revise laws, establish a Children’s Commission, train professional staff, and sign and discuss procedures to handle child abuse cases. In order for children to obtain even more comprehensive protection, however, we need to formulate child welfare policies and laws based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

Fig.1 : Leisure Corner for Families

Fig.2 : Volunteer Home Visitation

Fig.3 : Positive Parenting Training

Fig. 4: Remedial Treatment for Children

 


 

Kwai Chung Centre five-year plan

 

The number of child abuse cases in Kwai Tsing district has been increasing in recent years. The district has many low-income, single-parent and new-arrival families who need timely support to reinforce the family function. The Fu Tak Iam Foundation provided financial support to ACA to establish its Kwai Chung Centre in 2016, and in early 2019 extended its support into a five-year plan for a Child Abuse Treatment Corner. The Treatment Corner provides the district’s families with comprehensive child protection services, including home visitation to families with newborn infants, crisis intervention, casework and therapeutic groups, etc. The case below vividly demonstrates the service’s effectiveness in prevention and remedial treatment.

 

Ah-Fan (pseudonym) has one son and one daughter. After the children began attending elementary school, she constantly beat and scolded them over homework, squabbling or other such problems, and the parent-child relationship became strained. Ah-Fan says that after striking and scolding her children, she suffered from headaches, chest pains and even insomnia. Ah-Fan felt that the situation had become unbearable, and she hoped a social worker could help her improve her relationship with her children.

 

Through cognitive behavioural therapy, Ah-Fan discovered that she has many irrational ideas about her children, for example: She believes that if her children don’t study hard, they won’t be able to find good jobs in future and will only be manual labourers like her; she also feels that her children could do better, but aren’t trying hard enough. These irrational ideas affected the relationship between Ah-Fan and her children, and every time the children’s behaviour didn’t meet her expectations and demands, she would fly into a range, striking and scolding them. After undergoing therapy, Ah-Fan understands that her irrational thinking made her see only her children’s negative behaviour. Now when the children make her angry, she cools down and turns off her negative thinking, and tries to face her conflict with her children in a more positive light and communicate with them. Ah-Fan is better able to understand her children’s needs and thinking, and her relationship with them has markedly improved.

 


 

Hong Kong society has made progress over the past decades in many respects, but opinions still diverge on the child abuse issue. Although professionals and members of the general public alike have a low tolerance for physical abuse, they are still not fully prepared for a total ban on corporal punishment of children, which remains widespread in the home. Frequent cases of child suicide, sexual violation, neglect, severe abuse and even death tell us that our current laws, system, measures and services are not yet adequate to keep children out of harm’s way.

 

We will continue to actively submit position papers to the government on comprehensive legislation against corporal punishment, children’s mental health, infant care services, establishing a critical case discussion mechanism, supporting groups at risk, focusing on the needs of impoverished children, establishing a central database and sex crimes registry, and carrying out parent education and comprehensive sex education, in the hope that Hong Kong will have a long-range child abuse prevention policy in the near future.

 

Every child is precious and unique. They are independent individuals and the future of our society. Their rights should be respected and their voices should be heard. Children’s healthy development and growth should be the responsibility of all of society, and we hope the government and all segments of society will continue to join hands in building a caring and safe environment where our children can grow.

 


 

Editor's notes: This ariticle is aslo published in the 40th Anniversary Commemorative Publication of Against Child Abuse.