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Nurturing Pillars of Society

Nurturing Pillars of Society: Understanding and Working with the Young Generation in Hong Kong

Francis Wing-lin Lee
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Nurturing Pillars of Society
    Book Description:

    The younger generation — those under the age of 25 — accounts for more than a quarter of Hong Kong’s population. A much-misunderstood group, these people have special characteristics and needs, and some are particularly vulnerable. Substance abuse among young people is on the rise, and juveniles make up a third of total arrests every year. Extra effort and attention is required of policy-makers, educationalists and social workers to help this group make a positive contribution to society. This book seeks to promote understanding of Hong Kong’s young generation and offers strategies for working with them and their families towards healthy and productive development. Divided into three parts — youth in general, youth-at-risk, and young offenders — the book draws on international literature and empirical studies from within Hong Kong. Its focus is on action, always stressing the practical question of how to build a new model for working effectively with them. This book will be essential reading for seasoned professionals as well as undergraduate students in criminology, social policy, and social work, and postgraduates intending to practise in these areas.

    eISBN: 978-988-8053-55-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Nelson Chow

    When we are young, we are told by adults that when we grow up we will be “pillars of society”. Young people will certainly grow into adults, but it is anybody’s guess whether they will become “pillars of society” or, at the other extreme, criminals.

    Understanding today’s young people is not easy. Neither is working with them. The world in our century is complex, and young people are influenced by a variety of good and evil forces. We do not know what young people will become, and it is not a common practice among today’s parents or teachers to tell...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Part I Young People

    • 1 Who Are ‘Young People’?
      (pp. 3-10)

      The question posed in this chapter’s title seems to be an easy one. Age criterion is usually used to define young people. For example, in Hong Kong the social welfare community defines children and youth as those aged 6 to 24; the Youth Charter defines young people as those 15 to 24 + or -5. In the United States, “young people” generally refers to people aged 6 to 30. But a criterion related to mentality is also used at times. This means those who are regarded as thinking as young people, even though they may be well outside the age...

    • 2 Understanding Young People: A System Perspective
      (pp. 11-14)

      Normally, everyone is born into a family with both parents. Usually a person will stay in the family for about two to three years before entering the formal education system by way of a nursery. A child or young person (aged 2 to 22) then remains in the system for nearly 20 years before finishing college. He or she thus passes through the adolescent stage while acquiring a formal education. He or she also develops a peer system during these years. Family, school, and peers are thus the three main social systems to which a young person is exposed. Employing...

    • 3 Local Studies of Young People
      (pp. 15-28)

      In this chapter we consider the contemporary situations of and trends among young people in Hong Kong. Two studies are therefore introduced here. One is “Youth Trends in Hong Kong 2004-2006” (HKFYG, 2008); the other, in which I participated, is “Family Relationships of the Only Children” (Lee et al., 2006).

      The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups has a research centre that regularly conducts studies on issues related to young people; it executed this study several years ago.

      The study arrived at its findings by analysing all relevant statistics and studies of young people released by governmental departments and offices...

    • 4 Models for Working with Young People
      (pp. 29-44)

      The Deficit Model of youth work, which reflects negative perceptions of young people, is now out of favour in most Western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. But the model’s underlying values and one major assumption are still evident in youth work development in Hong Kong. The development of this model was closely related to traditional views of social welfare, according to which social welfare is intended for people incapable of taking care of themselves and in need of assistance. Burt et al., (1992) suggested that this model is implicitly negative toward those seen as unable...

    • 5 Working with Young People in Families, at School, and among Peers
      (pp. 45-66)

      As mentioned in Chapter Three, the family is responsible for nurturing personalities, teaching rules, norms, and problem-solving skills, and fulfilling the need of intimacy prior to a young person’s entry into school (Noller and Callan, 1991; Lee, 2002b and Rose and Fatout, 2003). Family (Sameroff et al., 1998) and the attributes of parents (Georgious, 1999) have been identified as keys to achievement for children. In this chapter we will first highlight the common problems young people will encounter in the family context. Some working strategies to work with young people in the family context will then be introduced.

      The significant...

  7. Part II Youth-at-Risk

    • 6 Who Are “Youth-at-Risk”?
      (pp. 69-76)

      Young people who abuse substances, belong to street gangs, drop out of school or may drop out, exhibit antisocial behaviour, and engage in causal sex are regarded as “youth-at-risk” (Dryfoos, 1990). This measurement is quite behavioural. It uses the display of socially unacceptable behaviour to define “at risk”.

      Groups of youths at risk form naturally in commonly occurring contexts—among peers, neighbours, and schoolmates, for instance, or within triads. They are not formed consciously, and they exist well before the commencement of a youth worker’s intervention (Lee, n.d.a). In Hong Kong, youth gangs (groups of youths at risk) are groups...

    • 7 Local Studies of “Youth-at-Risk”
      (pp. 77-92)

      The creation of crime and delinquency as a societal reaction to certain types of behaviour and the resulting interaction between law enforcement agents and those subjected to their control and labeling processes have been substantially argued in what is known as the interactionist perspective (Becker, 1963 & 1964; Jensen, 1980; Lemert, 1967; Moston et al., 1992; Schur, 1973; Wellford, 1975; Young, 1971 & 1976). The process of stereotyping and amplifying concepts of deviation, especially among law enforcement agents, is believed to account for the occurrence of crime and delinquency. To what extent is this process evident in Hong Kong? The...

    • 8 Working with “Youth-at-Risk”
      (pp. 93-98)

      “Youth-at-risk” (or “marginal youth”, as they are called locally) usually refers to street gangs or Triad members. Scholars and practitioners have developed and proposed different approaches to effective work with these clients. The first section of this chapter introduces these approaches.

      We will review five approaches to work with youths at risk as described in the literature. They are the conventional approach, the RGC approach, the group transformation approach, the de-group approach, and the case-in-group approach.

      This is the most traditional of the proposed approaches (HKCSS, 1988; Klein, 1971; Spergel, 1995). It suggests that detached workers will encounter various stages...

    • 9 Working with “Youth-at-Risk”: The Way Ahead
      (pp. 99-102)

      Different services have been implemented to assist youth-at-risk to regain a pro-social lifestyle (Lee, 2005, 2009 & n.d.a). Given that the causes of problems of youth-at-risk are multiple (Kornhauser, 1978; Regoli and Hewitt, 2000), multi-level interventions and cooperation are required. Conventional approaches are working with individual youths at risk, working with and influencing their peers, working with their families, working with their schools, and working with their communities.

      Traditionally, we tend to employ three perspectives on youth problems and deviance. These are the physiological perspective (pathology, biology, genetics), the psychological perspective (emotion, traits, personality), and the sociological perspective (social disorganisation,...

  8. Part III Young Offenders

    • 10 Youth Crime in Hong Kong
      (pp. 105-122)

      There are several ordinances in Hong Kong that provide behavioural guidelines. And there are ordinances defining the status of various people. For example, Chapter 226 of the Ordinances, the Juvenile Offenders Ordinance, says that a person under 10 who commits a crime is assumed to have no intention (Mens Rea) to act illegally and therefore has no criminal responsibility. Those aged 10 to 15 who are convicted of an offence are termed “juvenile offenders”. Convicts aged 16 to 20, are “young offenders”, and those 21 to 25 are “young adult offenders”. Here we will consider juvenile offenders and young offenders...

    • 11 Handling of Youth Crime in Hong Kong
      (pp. 123-136)

      Depending on the accepted theories and paradigms as to the causes of youth crime, justice systems vary from one society to another. A paradigm is a lens through which to view a problem and a framework for thinking about its solution (Zehr, 1997). Conventional paradigms of youth crime and its punishment, it has been argued, are one-dimensional. They focus only on offenders, whether they are rehabilitative and treatment-oriented or retributive and punishment-oriented.

      The rehabilitative paradigm focuses on the treatment of individual offenders. It has a deterministic view of them and considers an offence as a sign of poor socialisation. Intervention...

    • 12 Local Studies of Juvenile Delinquency and Justice
      (pp. 137-142)

      In this chapter we will review three studies of juvenile delinquency and justice as we find these in Hong Kong. They are: (1) “Research on Social Causes of Juvenile Crime” (Vagg et al., 1995); (2) “Culturally Specific Causes of Delinquency: Implication for Juvenile Justice in Hong Kong” (Wong, 1999), and (3) “Pathways to Delinquency in Hong Kong” (Wong, 2001). As each study is introduced, I will explain my reason for choosing it.

      Although this study was conducted more than a decade ago, it is the most up-to-date research on the social causes of juvenile crime to be commissioned by the...

    • 13 Juvenile Justice Issues (1): The Age of Criminal Responsibility and the “Family Conference”
      (pp. 143-150)

      The following four chapters will address various specific juvenile justice issues. The first of these is the minimum age at which criminal responsibility is assigned in Hong Kong. In the Hong Kong legal system, both Mens Rea (criminal intent) and Actus Reus (the criminal act itself) must be proven to achieve a guilty finding. The former of these is the more difficult to prove. The age at which an individual is considered mature enough to have criminal intent remains controversial and varies from one country to another due to differences in culture and social environment. In Hong Kong, the minimum...

    • 14 Juvenile Justice Issues (2): Community-based Treatments (CBTs) for Young Offenders
      (pp. 151-156)

      When we consider correction and punishment for offenders, imprisonment is the outcome we conventionally think of. Incarceration understood to have a deterrence effect. It can also sequester dangerous criminals for the safety of all. Imprisonment is what we usually call a custodial/non-community-based treatment. But courts can also sentence offenders to community-based treatment. Offenders can remain in their communities and live with their families, continue to work or attend school, and at the same time receive supervision or engage in activities intended as reparation. This kind of treatment is meant more for young offenders, who are thought to be more impulsive...

    • 15 Juvenile Justice Issues (3): Social Work with Young Offenders— Care or Control?
      (pp. 157-160)

      The question of “Social Work with Young Offenders: Care or Control” is the third of the four juvenile justice issues this book takes up. We raise this issue because most treatments of young offenders are carried out by officers who are trained in social work or who claim to employ the social work approach. In non-custodial CBTs, the tilt is toward care; in custodial treatments, wherein young offenders are locked up, the controlling aspect seems to prevail—as noted, out of concern for the safety and security of the staff and inmates.

      But can care and control co-exist in the...

    • 16 Juvenile Justice Issues(4): Restorative Justice (RJ) for Young Offenders
      (pp. 161-168)

      As the last of our juvenile justice issues, we now come to the sixth model of criminal justice, the restorative justice (RJ) model.

      In the retributive model, we shall recall at the outset, offenders are punished for having wronged. Thus, they are sentenced either to imprisonment or capital punishment (Anderson, 1997; Hart, 1963). But with an increasing emphasis on human rights, retributive types of correction are now de-emphasised. Allen and Latessa (1997) and van Ness (1996) state that rehabilitative measures for offenders have been developed to provide specific and tailor-made treatments. The thought is that rehabilitation will provide offenders with...

    • 17 Some Final Remarks on Working with Young Offenders
      (pp. 169-172)

      We have considered local youth crime and some locally contentious juvenile justice issues. By way of final remarks, I will underscore three topics: intermediate intervention, effective rehabilitation and supervision, and the way ahead for services for young offenders.

      As I have suggested elsewhere, there is a criminalisation process that can turn a juvenile delinquent into an adult criminal (Lee, 1996). I described this process as “the gradual procession that a juvenile delinquent becomes an adult criminal in the lack of appropriate intervention” (Lee, 1996:152). Diagram 8 illustrates the process

      To halt the process, some variety of intermediate intervention are needed....

  9. References
    (pp. 173-196)
  10. Index
    (pp. 197-198)