Survey of Hong Kong children reveals nearly half are subjected to physical punishment

Abusive parenting
Image: Daiga Ellaby/Unsplash
  • According to a survey conducted by non-governmental organization Against Child Abuse (ACA), 49% of Hong Kong children claimed they were physically punished by their parents, 45% received hurtful comments and 68% experienced scolding.
  • A total of 677 children respondents aged 6 to 17 and 470 parents with children aged from 3 to 17 participated in the poll from November 2021 to January 2022.
  • Among the parent respondents, 60% admitted to physically punishing their children while almost 80% of them shared that they grew up experiencing similar discipline methods.
  • “Some parents browbeat their children, and that does not result in any bodily harm, but what they don’t realize is that the child feels unsafe and fearful at home afterward,” said ACA development and training manager Karry Lau Yee-hung.

A recent survey in Hong Kong has found that almost half of its child participants experience corporal punishment or hurtful comments from their parents. 

The poll, conducted by non-governmental organization Against Child Abuse (ACA), revealed that abusive disciplinary techniques are still typical in Hong Kong households. 

Between November 2021 and January 2022, the organization surveyed a total of 677 children respondents aged 6 to 17. The poll also interviewed 470 parents with children aged 3 to 17.

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Based on the findings, 49% of the child participants said they received corporal punishment, 45% received hurtful comments and 68% experienced scolding.

ACA’s report noted that scolding, physical punishment and other actions that humiliate children can damage the mental health of a child.

“Some parents browbeat their children, and that does not result in any bodily harm, but what they don’t realize is that the child feels unsafe and fearful at home afterward,” said Karry Lau Yee-hung, ACA development and training manager. “Repeating such behavior, such as emotional blackmailing, will cause psychological harm in children.”

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Meanwhile, 60% of the parent respondents admitted to physically punishing their children.  Almost 80% of them shared that they grew up experiencing similar discipline methods. Additionally, 96% revealed that they have scolded their children, while 75% admitted to saying hurtful comments to their children.

According to Lau, most parents are aware of how damaging their actions are. “I’ve had cases of parents who used corporal punishment telling me that they knew it wasn’t right, but they were so tired and stressed that they lost control,” she was quoted as saying.

The child participants who repeatedly face verbal and physical abuse feel less close to their parents, resulting in an average drop of 27%.

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Threatening to disown or cut ties caused the most damage to parents’ relationships with their children. Only 23 of the child participants who reported having sometimes or frequently received such threats consider themselves close to their parents. Around 480 children who reported having never or seldom experienced corporal punishment consider themselves close to their parents. 

Meanwhile, the 465 children who never or almost never heard hurtful comments reported feeling close to their parents – a stark contrast to the 82 children who sometimes or frequently experienced such comments and felt similarly.

Among the child participants, 34% shared that they did not know what psychological abuse is, while 16% of them expressed that they may have experienced it. As for the parents, 16% admitted to not knowing what psychological abuse is, while 24% said they are uncertain of whether they have subjected their children to this type of punishment.

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