LCQ6: Police committed to preventing and combating sexual offences involving juveniles

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong in the Legislative Council today (February 16):


     The Government earlier reported on the overall crime situation in Hong Kong in 2010 at a meeting of the Panel on Security of this Council. The figures indicated that there was a rise in the number of indecent assault cases which occurred in schools when compared with that in the preceding year, with cases involving indecent assault among schoolmates recording an increase of 37.8%; the number of indecent assault cases involving juveniles under 16 years of age also increased by as much as 34.9%. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of indecent assault cases committed by juveniles under 16 years of age last year, and among such cases, the age distribution of the offenders and victims, the number of cases in which prosecutions had been instituted and the conviction rate of the offenders;

(b) according to the assessment of the authorities, of the reasons for the increase in indecent assault cases and whether the measures taken at present to prevent sex crimes committed by children are adequate; if the outcome of the assessment is in the affirmative, why the number of such indecent assault cases continues to rise; if the outcome of the assessment is in the negative, how the authorities will rectify the existing inadequacies; and

(c) given that there was an increase of close to 40% in indecent assault cases among schoolmates, whether the authorities will review the contents of the existing sex education programmes, including the Guidelines on Sex Education in Schools published in 1997, and enhance support for schools in implementing sex education; if so, of the contents to be added and the present progress in implementing the programmes; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) In 2010, the Police arrested a total of 3,576 juveniles under the age of 16, representing a decline of 10.7% when compared with the figure in 2009. Among them, 168 were arrested on suspicion of committing the offence of indecent assault (accounting for 4.7% of the total number of arrestees under the age of 16). Compared with 2009, the number of the same category of arrestees was 137, accounting for 3.4% of the cases in that year.

     Regarding juveniles under the age of 16 arrested for indecent assault cases, the Police have not maintained statistics on the detailed age distribution of the arrestees and victims. Between January and September 2010, the Police arrested 125 juveniles under the age of 16 on suspicion of committing the offence of indecent assault. During the same period, 29 and 15 juveniles under the age of 16 suspected of committing the same offence were prosecuted and convicted respectively. It is worth noting that these prosecution and conviction figures are counted by the year of conclusion of the trials, and as the court proceedings of quite a number of the cases last for a relatively long time, the year of arrest by the Police and the year of conclusion of the respective cases may be different. Hence, these figures should not be used to deduce the so called prosecution or conviction rate.

(b) and (c) One of the reasons for the increase in indecent assault cases is that the victims are more willing to report the crime to the Police. The Police will continue to enhance their efforts in organising public education and promotion activities with the aim of encouraging the public and victims to report the crime to the Police, and to co-operate with the Police in providing crime information. This enables the Police to detect and combat such offence more effectively. On the work of preventing sexual offences, the Police actively offer advice on personal safety to the public, including ways to avoid becoming victims of sexual offences. The Police also strive to complement the multi-agency and cross-sectoral approach which aims at deterring first time offenders and reduce juvenile recidivism.

     At the same time, since the publication of the "Guidelines on Sex Education in Schools" by the then Education Department in 1997, guidance has been provided for schools as they introduce sex education. Sex education aims at helping students to understand sex issues while growing up, and to nurture in them a sense of responsibility so that they will adopt a sensible and responsible attitude when facing various challenges and temptations, and to make the correct value judgments.

     The then Education and Manpower Bureau launched the Curriculum Reform in 2001 which advocated the whole-person development of students through a holistic curriculum comprising of knowledge, skills and attitudes. The reform also provides a strong linkage between various value-related themes while emphasising the cultivation of positive values and attitudes in sex education. The Education Bureau encourages schools to adopt a life-event approach to engage students in discussing real-life experiences in order to establish meaningful connections between students' daily life encounters and their learning. The use of authentic situations provides meaningful contexts for students to reflect upon the values they hold and to provide them with opportunities to express and reflect upon their own views. All this will enable them to adopt a responsible attitude when facing various issues and challenges regarding sex.

     To support the implementation of sex education in schools and to assist and support teachers in promoting sex education, the Education Bureau is forging partnership with different organisations and professionals (e.g. doctors, sex educators) to organise professional development programmes, seminars and workshops. Furthermore, various theme-based websites as well as learning and teaching resource materials have also been developed by the Education Bureau to assist teachers in promoting sex education, for example, website and various educational television programmes (please refer to the Chinese version of the press release for more information).

     Besides, the Education Bureau provides schools with guidelines on student guidance. Schools are advised to organise sex-related preventive and developmental guidance activities for students to explore issues regarding relationships with the opposite sex and to help them develop appropriate values and attitudes. This enables students to handle the situations rationally and analytically and to make responsible decisions when problems arise.

     The Education Bureau conducts talks and seminars annually to raise the awareness of education professionals about the protection of children against sexual abuse.

     On the work of the Police, they will continue to disseminate positive messages through School Liaison Officers in primary and secondary schools, and instill in positive values and the ability to discern right from wrong to primary and secondary school students. In support of sex education courses launched by schools to promote positive sexual attitudes, School Liaison Officers will continue to enhance juveniles' awareness of sexual offences and relevant criminal liability. In 2010, School Liaison Officers, in collaboration with various Crime Prevention Units, organised more than 550 talks and seminars on sexual offences, attracting the participation of about 156,000 primary and secondary school students. For the 2010/2011 school year, the Police will conduct activities for over 1,000 primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, using "Don't Trust people in the Cyber World Be Vigilant when meeting New Friends" as the slogan to disseminate the message of staying alert to internet activities to students and remind them to beware of making friends with unruly elements. The Police also produced a set of instruction materials for School Liaison Officers to give extensive promotion of the risk of internet activities when visiting schools and to teach young people ways and skills to better protect themselves from becoming victims. Furthermore, the Police Public Relations Branch presented several situation programmes on "Preventing sexual abuse" on Police Magazine.

     In fact, parents also play a very important role in the prevention of and combating sexual offences involving children. The Police always call on parents to care more about and pay attention to the internet activities of their children in order to prevent the latter from receiving objectionable information and making friends with unruly elements. Parents may also make use of content filtering software available on the market to filter out websites with objectionable content.  This is to prevent their children from browsing information and images which falsely represent or advocate inappropriate sexual values and thus the occurrence of sexual offences.

     The Police will continue to monitor the trend of indecent assault cases and combat such crime through promotion and education.

Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:35