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LCQ10: Promoting positive and healthy sex attitudes among youngsters
     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (April 26):

     It has been reported that two incidents of group bullying of an indecent nature occurred recently in a student hall of residence in the University of Hong Kong, and it was uncovered last month that a number of male students of a Direct Subsidy Scheme secondary school had allegedly installed hidden cameras in female changing rooms and classrooms in the school for surreptitious recordings for a long period of time. Some members of the education sector have pointed out that such incidents reflect the low moral standards of some youngsters and their lack of respect for others, as well as the ineffectiveness of the sex education implemented in schools. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the total number of complaints received by secondary schools and post-secondary institutions across the territory in the past five years about assaults, bullying or other misconduct of an indecent nature occurring on campuses or in dormitories, and how the authorities and schools followed up such complaints;

(2) whether the Education Bureau (EDB) has provided post-secondary institutions with guidelines on preventing students from performing acts of an indecent nature or other objectionable acts in the institutions;

(3) whether, in the light of the aforesaid incident of surreptitious recordings, the EDB has immediately issued guidelines to or conducted talks for the secondary school concerned to provide it support in handling the incident; if not, whether the EDB will follow up the incident expeditiously;

(4) given that the EDB compiled the Guidelines on Sex Education in Schools in 1997 for the reference of schools and introduced a curriculum reform in 2001 under which cross-curriculum programmes, including sex education, were integrated into moral and civic education to provide holistic education, whether the EDB knows the current situation concerning the development of sex education programmes by schools in accordance with the relevant guidelines; of the number of schools which have not developed sex education programmes, and how the EDB follows up the issue; and

(5) whether, in the light of the several recent incidents of assaults and bullying of an indecent nature that occurred on campus, the authorities will expeditiously conduct a review on ways to improve the sex education implemented in schools, with a view to building positive and healthy sex attitudes among youngsters?

     Helping students to develop positive values and attitudes has all along been one of the major learning goals of school education in Hong Kong. Currently, the Education Bureau (EDB), through measures such as the provision of appropriate curriculum guides, diversified teacher professional development programmes and relevant learning and teaching resources, supports schools in adopting a holistic, systematic and sustainable approach which suits the developmental needs of students for the implementation of moral and civic education, covering sex education and other values education. The EDB has also prepared the School Administration Guide and the relevant school circulars to render support to schools in handling students' misbehaviour and related complaints. Besides, at present, the General Education programmes offered by the eight University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities generally include modules and elements of sex education. The universities also regularly arrange for their staff and students to attend training courses, seminars and talks on how to prevent and handle sexual harassment.
     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan is as follows:
(1) In the past five years, the EDB has not received complaints involving secondary school students' indecent behaviour or group bullying. Yet, apart from complaining to the Bureau, the person concerned or his/her guardian may lodge complaints directly to the school but such information is not available to the Bureau. In general, if the case may involve criminal offences, the Bureau or the school will advise the complainant to report to the police.
     As regards UGC-funded universities, the number of complaints relating to sexual harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behaviour received by UGC-funded universities in the past five years is set out at Annex. In case of sexual harassment and bullying, the complainant may lodge a complaint to the university. Each university has put in place a complaints-handling mechanism and disciplinary procedures to ensure that every case will be dealt with in a serious and impartial manner. In addition, depending on the nature of the cases, the complainant may also lodge a complaint to the Equal Opportunities Commission or bring civil proceedings in court. The internal complaints-handling mechanism of a university will in no way affect the complainant's rights to complain or litigate outside the university. For cases involving criminal elements, they will also be referred to the police by the universities concerned for further investigation.
     Regarding the recent incidents which took place in student halls of residence of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) as quoted in the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan's question, we understand that HKU is highly concerned. The wardens of the student halls of residence concerned have conducted investigation immediately and students involved have received appropriate advice and penalty. The senior management of the University has also set up a committee led by a Vice-President to follow up on the cases. If there is sufficient evidence, HKU will further initiate disciplinary proceedings to punish the students concerned.
(2) The eight UGC-funded universities are all independent and autonomous statutory bodies. According to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 480), these universities, same as other organisations in Hong Kong, have a statutory obligation to take reasonable and practical steps to prevent sexual harassment on campus, including developing a policy in writing in this respect and setting up a mechanism to handle complaints about sexual harassment.
     All eight universities have informed the UGC Secretariat that they have put in place policies and regulations for the prevention of sexual harassment cases. According to universities' policies, a member, employee or student of the university shall not discriminate or harass any other member, employee or student of the university or any other person who has dealings with the university. On the other hand, the universities have also drawn up relevant guidelines and regulations which prescribe that bullying or any other behaviour that is detrimental to the dignity and rights of others is strictly prohibited on campus or in a student hostel.
(3) To ensure the safety of students at school, the EDB has compiled the School Administration Guide and from time to time issues circulars to provide schools with clear guidelines on student affairs, including discipline, student behaviour and handling of school bullying incidents. The School Administration Guide specifies that schools should formulate policies and measures to prevent students' behavioural problems, such as bullying and sexual harassment. If students are suspected to have been involved in illegal behaviour, such as indecent assault and peeping Tom, schools should consult the respective Police School Liaison Officer. For serious cases, schools should report to the police immediately to seek assistance. The EDB organises talks or seminars every year to raise the awareness of teachers and social workers about protecting students from sexual assaults or sexual harassment, and advise them on early identification, intervention and support to student victims. After the incident of surreptitious recordings, the Bureau has immediately contacted the school concerned to obtain relevant details about the incident and provided appropriate support to the school.
(4) The EDB is committed to promoting sex education at various key stages of learning in schools through a holistic curriculum comprising knowledge, skills and values/attitudes. Learning elements related to sex education such as personal development, hygiene, puberty, making friends, dating, marriage, protecting the body and gender equality are included in the key learning areas, subjects and Moral and Civic Education curriculum of primary and secondary schools. In addition, schools also provide students with related learning experiences through class teachers' periods, school assemblies and life-wide learning activities such as talks, visits and exhibitions. The Bureau expects sex education in schools will help students uphold positive values and attitudes when facing issues related to sex, build healthy interpersonal relationships, as well as analyse rationally and objectively so as to make reasonable judgements and responsible decisions. Schools will make reference to the Bureau's related curriculum guides and documents and take into consideration their school-based situation when planning the school-based sex education curriculum and organising related learning activities. Schools will also formulate their school-based assessment policy and persistently review and improve their school-based curriculum and related contents.
(5) To address the developmental needs of the students and society, the EDB has been reviewing and renewing different curriculum contents. The Moral and Civic Education curriculum framework has been revised and enriched in April 2008 to include expected learning outcomes and contents related to sex education for various stages of learning so as to help schools implement sex education more systematically. In the new senior secondary curriculum implemented in September 2009, sex education for the youth has been included in the core curriculum. Learning elements related to sex education have been incorporated into the Life and Society curriculum at the junior secondary level implemented in 2010. Schools are encouraged to update their school-based curriculum and learning and teaching materials in a timely manner, and to organise school activities to cater for students' needs. In response to the rapid societal changes and needs of students, the EDB will continue to strengthen support to schools, such as ongoing development of learning and teaching resources, renewal of relevant curricula and inviting tertiary institutions, related government departments and institutions/organisations, etc. to co-organise professional development programmes and activities for teachers so as to help them keep abreast of the recent developments of related issues and acquire the pedagogical skills for implementing sex education. The Bureau will continue to meet and exchange views with stakeholders and listen to their views and suggestions on the curriculum provided through different channels such as school curriculum visits so as to enhance curriculum development and learning and teaching effectiveness. As regards the UGC-funded universities, they also widely promote their policies and measures for the prevention of sexual harassment through different channels by regularly launching publicity and education activities on campus. Universities also strive to strengthen the promotion of the guidelines and regulations on the prohibition of bullying and sexual harassment, especially within student hostels and during orientation activities.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:55
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