Information on some of the issues which affect young people including driving, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use and the laws surrounding them in Hong Kong...
Teenagers in Hong Kong are affected by similar issues to young people all over the developed world. In general, there is good access to advice on drugs, alcohol and sexual health for teenagers, and various organisations can help if a young person finds themselves in trouble.
No one may drive in Hong Kong without a valid driving licence. Only those over 18 are allowed a licence for cars and motorcycles. There is a separate licence for each. 18-year-olds may ride a motorcycle (50cc maximum) with a provisional licence. Application for a first driving licence must be made to the Licensing Office.
- More information from the Department of Transport website: Click here
Hong Kong is a busy and often congested place to drive. There are tough penalties for dangerous driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is a maximum level of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Teenagers and Alcohol
The Department of Health organises and funds various initiatives aimed at combating health problems associated with alcohol, tobacco and drugs. It maintains a website, Health Zone, which provides information and advice on health issues.
Adolescents are specifically dealt with by the Student Health Service. Its website contains articles on drugs, alcohol, sex education and piercing which may be of use to parents with teenagers.
There are high levels of tax on beer and wine (although these have been cut in recent times) which has traditionally made it expensive to drink. Not surprisingly, surveys have shown that only a small percentage of the population drinks regularly. Under 18s are not allowed to buy alcohol, and while bars and clubs are fairly stringent in checking the age of clients via ID cards, supermarkets and convenience stores almost never do. Recent surveys by youth organisations report that underage drinking is on the rise in Hong Kong.
English-speaking residents can also consult the Community Advice Bureau on a whole range of topics including issues regarding alcohol and drugs. Alcoholics Anonymous has a branch and meetings in Hong Kong.
Teenagers and Drugs
Hong Kong tries to educate its young people about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other substances. However, drug abuse has long been a problem. In spite of concerted efforts by the police and the Customs and Excise Department the drugs continue to arrive in Hong Kong and are easily obtainable.
The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) advises the government on its anti-drug strategy and programmes. The Government's overall strategy to counter drug trafficking and eliminate drug abuse from the community is made up of five elements: legislation and law enforcement, preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, research and international cooperation. Recent government research has highlighted increased levels of drug use among young people – in particular, the use of mind-altering substances at discos and parties.
Supplying drugs is illegal and there have been changes to legislation; those who target young people are now more severely punished than before. Those found in possession of drugs are also likely to face prosecution.
- For more information on the legislation see the Government Narcotics Division
For those who become addicted or who need further advice, there are various support groups and clinics. These are either medical in nature, in which case they come under the remit of the Department of Health, or more psychological in their approach to rehabilitation and these are looked after by the Social Welfare Department. Concerned parents should approach either of these bodies or the Student Health Service for advice and support.
Teenage Pregnancy and Sexual Health
Teenagers will be provided with information and advice as part of the Student Health Service programme but given the recent rise in teenage pregnancies, there is criticism that this isn't working. Youngsters in Hong Kong are encouraged to adopt a mature and sensible approach to growing up and will receive details of where to get help. For example, they can consult the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.
Mother's Choice is a non-profit organisation with a pregnant girls' service offering counselling services to girls facing an unplanned pregnancy.
- Mother's Choice
At: 42B Kennedy Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong.
Hotline Tel: 2868 2022 Monday to Sunday from 09:00-22:00. Telephone counselling is available Monday to Friday from 09:00-17:30
Fax: 2537 7681
Termination of pregnancy in Hong Kong is regulated according to Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance. Two medical practitioners must agree that the termination can go ahead subject to certain conditions. These involve the physical and mental health risk to the pregnant woman, health issues with the unborn child, a woman under 16 years of age or a woman who has been the victim of rape, which has been reported to the police.
- For details of the available options in the event of an unplanned pregnancy from the Family Planning website: Click here
The legal termination of pregnancy cannot be performed after 24 weeks unless essential to save the pregnant woman's life. All terminations must be performed in government specified hospitals or the operating theatres of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, and by registered doctors.
- The Sexuality Education website has useful articles and links
- The Teen AIDS organisation offers advice
Mental Health and Stress
Teens in Hong Kong suffer from a wealth of pressures and mental health concerns. The government has come under criticism in recent years for the lack of infrastructure available for teen support. The Social Welfare Department provides a list of clinical psychologists for those ready to seek help. The Hospital Authority also provides a range of services for youth in need of medical assistance through specialist outpatient clinics, and hospital A&E departments, where immediate treatment is required.
There are also registered charities and support groups for youths and teenagers:
KELY Support Group run a number of workshops in primary and secondary schools on mental health, drug education and more. They host an instant-messaging platform for teens to communicate directly and anonymously with a support network.
- KELY Support Group
2/F, East Wing, 12 Borrett Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
Tel: 2521 6890
TALK2ME: Text 6174 4267 for English-language correspondence.