China / HK Macao Taiwan

HK parents fear for kids' safety

By Ming Yeung and Frannie Guan in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-29 07:45

Parents of protesting students in Hong Kong are growing increasingly worried about the youngsters' safety as pressure mounts on the police to clear areas affected by the Occupy Central campaign.

Some families are split over the illegal movement, which has been involved in clashes and confrontations over the past month, particularly in the Mong Kok area.

One couple are on the point of divorcing because they disagree so strongly about the protests.

"There have been conflicts in Mong Kok almost every day, and the situation there is volatile," Tsang Wai-hung, the police commissioner, said on Monday. "Mong Kok is far more chaotic and dangerous than other occupied areas."

Henry Chan Sing-tat, chairman of the Hong Kong Parents Association, said some parents had expressed serious concerns about the safety of their children.

Their relationships with their sons and daughters have turned "upside down" since the Occupy Central campaign started, he said.

"The parents have mixed feelings of frustration, disappointment and worry," Chan added. "Not only are they concerned that their children may get a criminal record, they fear for their safety as violent scuffles occur from time to time."

Eric Chan's parents were opposed to him and his younger brother visiting Mong Kok after violence erupted, but he insists on going there every day.

"I told them everything would be fine. We just went to show our support," said the 24-year-old.

Knowing his parents would not agree to him joining the protests, Chan lied to them on some occasions about where he was going.

Ken Wong said his daughter, a second-year student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has taken part in the demonstrations with her teacher and classmates. She has not discussed the campaign with him because he did not support it, and this had caused him distress.

Spouses and those in close relationships who have conflicting views about the movement find themselves fighting constantly.

Stanley Yeung, 63, is strongly opposed to the protesters, while his wife and 26-year-old daughter support them. The couple argue fiercely whenever they watch the TV news, and are contemplating divorce.

"I was given two options by my wife: either support the protest, or divorce," Yeung said. "I feel very upset because our peaceful family is now deeply divided due to this incident."

Paulina Kwok Chi-yin, supervisor of the Caritas Family Crisis Support Center, said she and her staff had received 230 phone calls from people seeking help because of disputes over the campaign.

"What worries me the most are the confrontations we are seeing in families," she said. "We see different opinions in the two generations, or among siblings who attack each other verbally.

"Families should discuss the matter in a rational and respectful manner."

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