Letter | Hong Kong must enact stricter child car seat legislation before more accidents happen | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

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In a serious traffic accident on Sunday, an eight-month-old baby was flung out of the car along with the domestic helper who was holding him. It is suspected that the car door flung open during the crash and the helper was not wearing a seat belt.

Private cars have consistently been the largest source of child passenger injuries in Hong Kong, according to a 2021 Legislative Council paper, averaging 162 traffic accidents annually in which a child passenger aged under 12 was hurt.

Under current legislation, children under three years old and sitting in the front must use child safety seats, while children sitting at the back and above three years old are not required to do so.

According to the Road Users’ Code, if the driver is driving a baby below 12 months old, there should be a carrycot or infant carrier for the baby. However, such requirements have not yet been enacted into law. In 2022, the government proposed legislation requiring private cars to install child safety seats for children aged seven or below, but the proposal is still under consideration.

In March, there was another accident involving child passengers, this time apparently caused by one of the children on board opening a car door during travel. A three-year-old boy, a four-year-old girl and a helper were injured. It was later revealed that the children in the car did not use a child harness or child safety seat, and the driver did not use the central lock or a baby lock for the car doors, such that the door could be opened easily.

These two accidents reveal that too many people are ignorant of safety requirements for children in cars, resulting in unnecessary injuries to passengers.

According to the Legco paper, a review in 2013 of the child car seat regulations in 17 places – including Japan, Australia, the UK and Canada – found that all of them had more stringent regulations than Hong Kong. It is unacceptable that Hong Kong continues to use mostly non-binding guidance for drivers.

Our children must be protected. These necessary safety measures to mitigate avoidable harm should be addressed with determination immediately. We hope the government will enact regulations as soon as possible.

Billy Wong, executive secretary, Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights

Drilling for exam a major source of student stress

I refer to the alarming findings reported in the article, “1 in 4 Hong Kong children suffered from mental disorder in past year: study” (November 29).

It is no surprise that the research team has identified school-related problems as one of the most significant factors affecting youngsters’ mental health. As any secondary school student can attest, learning at school is often reduced to army-style drills for the Diploma of Secondary Education trench warfare, even though we know that learning is, above anything else, a journey of self-discovery.

Instead of helping students discover their gifts and unreservedly encouraging them to pursue their unique paths, whether traditional or unconventional, many teachers single-mindedly marshal their troops on the public exam battleground.

In this zero-sum game, a lot of students end up failing, thrust into a state of despair, clueless about their aim in life and unequipped with any specialised skills. Teachers have a higher calling beyond the mere school subjects that they teach.

Lee Cheuk Ming, Discovery Bay

Grant must be used to strengthen support for students

The education authorities will give schools and parent-teacher associations a grant to organise mental health-related activities. Thus we should empower students to seek help when they feel overwhelmed.

Currently, however, there does not seem to be enough manpower to provide sufficient help to every student in need. There are usually only one or two social workers stationed at each school. The best they can do is provide some counselling to temporarily calm down students in emotional distress, but this won’t solve the root problem of their anxiety.

In addition, I suggest we simplify the syllabus and make the curriculum more flexible. This will help ease the workload on both students and teachers.

Sumina Choi, Tseung Kwan O

Boost STEM teaching with full access to simulations

The PhET Interactive Simulations project pioneered by Nobel and Yidan Prize laureate Carl Wieman has significantly enhanced STEM education by offering 167 free interactive simulations across five disciplines – physics, chemistry, maths, earth science and biology – with over 1.4 billion simulations already delivered globally.

While the Education Bureau has commendably shared some PhET simulations via its EdCity portal, the offerings are incomplete and outdated. The 26 simulations available are Java-based, a technology that has been superseded by HTML. Given the small number of simulations included, there is limited alignment between the simulations and our local science and maths curriculum, presenting a challenge for teachers who want to integrate these resources.

We propose that the Education Bureau and EdCity join the PhET partnership scheme. A partnership would offer access to an updated, comprehensive library of simulations, technical and pedagogical support, and the right to use the renowned PhET brand. Moreover, it would facilitate the alignment of simulations with our curriculum, making them more accessible to teachers and students.

Theressa Au, Ruining Fu and Zhonghua Liu, Kowloon Tong


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