Thursday, 25 April 2013

Raising a Murderous Generation?

An interesting study was reported on yesterday claiming that Hong Kong
parents were producing a generation of spoilt brats who overestimated their
abilities and may even resort to aggression to get ahead.

Annis Fung, associate professor in the department of applied social
studies, said Hong Kong children rated themselves a lot more higher than
those in the west -- so much so that they were at risk of developing
disorders that could turn them into violent offenders.

"The city is at high risk as it is producing spoiled children who are
overconfident about themselves," Fung said.

In her study she tested 9,400 students with an average age of 11 and used
an anti-social process screening device (APSD) -- a questionnaire that
detects antisocial traits.

The average level of narcissism displayed in youngsters here was 3.89 on a
14-point scale -- higher than the 2.9 for children in the United States and
2.81 in Australia.

The test measures children's self-regard and their views of the outside
world, as well as their means of achieving their desires.

Fung was worried because 16 percent of Hong Kong children displayed signs
they were aggressors or tended to bully, while similar studies in the US
showed about 10 percent of students had such a tendency. This category of
children had an APSD score of 6.23, similar to that of adolescent criminals
in the US and Canada.

"Action must be taken. We don't want murders," she said, adding such
children may try to achieve their goals without thinking of the

She added this study was the first of its kind in Hong Kong.

Registered social worker Cecilia Ng Kam-kuen said Hong Kong's outcome-based
education system encouraged children to be more selfish and "only look at
the results". Such a culture is likely to influence children and make them
more self-centered.

"Parents are giving too many things to their kids, making them feel good
about themselves," Fung said. "Such monster parents overprotect and make
children narcissistic. This can be potentially dangerous."

We are very interested in Fung's study, but she sounds quite alarmist.
While it is true the younger generation seem to be more self-centered and
narcissistic, we wouldn't come to the conclusion they would become murderers.

They may think of mischievous ways to get what they want, but there
are enough checks and balances, from parents and teachers, to school
systems, and society in general that will put enough boundaries and
instruction that these kids will quickly figure out what is right and

The crime rate here is low relatives to other countries, let alone
murder, so for Fung to come to this kind of conclusion is far fetched,
though numerically or statistically that's what the results infer.

We agree parents should not overcompensate with material things for
working long hours and instead try to spend as much quality time as
possible with their children. It's building these relationships over
time that count the most
and help guide a child in establishing his or her values.

What's interesting is Hong Kong children's overestimation of their
abilities which can also lead to extreme disappointment because they cannot
necessarily get what they want or what they expect to achieve which
can either result in them becoming extremely depressed, or thinking of
alternatives which may or may not be legal.

In any event we hope this study will make parents think more about
their child-rearing practices and if they are devoting enough time to
their brood. After all, children are the biggest investment parents
can make, and they better make sure it pays off in the end.

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