Most local Chinese students do not mingle with peers from South Asian minority groups, says the latest survey from the Chinese Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
Among local students surveyed, 71.4 percent said they have no South Asian friends. Over 30 percent stated they believed Hong Kong Chinese and South Asian peoples do not getting along very amicably.
The Christian service organization conducted the survey named "Hong Kong Chinese Children's Perceptions of South Asians and Their Views on Racial Integration" in September and October. A total of 1,228 valid questionnaires were collected from Primary Five and Six students all across the city.
More than half of respondents were under the impression that local Chinese population discriminated against South Asians (647 children, 53.9 percent) and the South Asians living in Hong Kong were subject to unfair treatment (640 children, 53.1 percent), according to the survey.
"Our greatest concern is that about 15 percent of the students had used naughty nicknames to refer to South Asian children," said Kenny Tang, deputy-in-charge of the Knowledge Management and Strategy Section of the Chinese YMCA, who authored the survey report. The percentage indicates that 17,000 students all over Hong Kong use ethnic slurs against South Asian races, Tang said.
"They could be violating the Race Discrimination Ordinance simply by name calling," Tang cautioned. "And if little children hold so much discrimination against minority groups, imagine what they may do when they grow up!"
The Race Discrimination Ordinance, passed in 2009, stipulates that if a person engages in unwelcome, abusive, insulting or offensive behavior because of another person's race, making the target of the behavior feel threatened, humiliated or embarrassed, then it is racial harassment, which is unlawful.
The survey also found 18.2 percent of students were "not willing" to make friends with South Asian children (223 children) while almost 24 percent (288 children) did not wish to sit next to a South Asian person on public transport.
Verbal communication barriers, discrimination and personal bias, and bad impression were the main reasons why they did not want to be friends with South Asian children, the report said.
Fermi Wong, executive director of Hong Kong Unison, an NGO dedicated to improving equal rights for ethnic minorities, said she found the survey results consistent with her experience. However, she argued that parents and teachers play a more important role in shaping children's view of the minority races.
"Children are mostly ignorant about minority groups. They learn the discriminative behavior largely from their parents," Wong said.
Wong suggested that schools include racial diversity teaching into their curriculums and that the Education Bureau allocate more resources to promote social harmony in schools.
(HK Edition 01/04/2011 page1)