Help children face tough challenges

Updated: 2017-02-09 09:32

By Staff Writer(HK Edition)

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The deaths of two secondary school students by suicide early this week drew public attention once again to the urgent need for parents, schools, the government and society in general to find effective ways and means to prevent such tragedies from happening again. As public debate over who or what is to blame rages on, many people seem to have lost sight of the first thing we need to do to fix the problem: Help our children learn to overcome life's challenges instead of running away from them.

While it is common knowledge that local schools are under constant criticism for failing to help their students deal with heavy pressure from excessive schoolwork, there is no definitive evidence such mental strain has reached epidemic levels. Even if claims that many students receive medication for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not complete hearsay, there is no proof it can help improve academic performance, let alone prevent suicide.

In that sense, parents and teachers really have no reason to believe medical attention alone can make things easier for their kids. Therefore, schools and teachers in particular should make the transfer of knowledge more interesting or "fun" instead of trying to wipe their hands clean of the "mess" and merely asking doctors for help. After all, only certified professionals have the right and know-how to determine whether or not someone has ADHD and needs clinical treatment. And cerebral inhibitors (neural drugs) only work on real patients.

Some parents may argue they are not adequately trained to help their "academically challenged" children tackle difficult schoolwork, without realizing they are not supposed to do that in the first place. What they need to do is to inspire and encourage their children to overcome those challenges. They should also never dismiss them as failures, because that would be admitting they are the ultimate failure as parents. We go to school to learn for our own future, not to prove ourselves or to please anyone. Vanity should not and must not matter in a child's development.

Children are born curious and they will learn one way or another as they grow up, which means parents and teachers are obligated to feed them as much "healthy" knowledge as they can take in and "digest" naturally. It is never right nor necessary for adults to burden the younger generation with high expectations, especially if they had problem living up to such undue demands in their own childhood. What parents and teachers should do is ensure their children's (students') healthy development, both physically and intellectually.

(HK Edition 02/09/2017 page8)