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Pushed to the brink: The dangerous effects of Hong Kong parents' academic pressure on children

Hong Kong is known for its highly competitive education system, where academic excellence is highly valued. However, this has led to a culture where parents put immense academic pressure on their young children, starting from a very early age.

Boy under academic pressure

While parents may have good intentions of wanting their children to succeed, this academic pressure can have severe consequences on the mental and physical health of young children.

One of the biggest dangers of academic pressure is the toll it takes on mental health. Children who are constantly pushed to excel academically often suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. They may feel like they are not good enough, that their worth is solely based on their grades, and that they have no room for failure. This can be especially damaging for young children who are still developing their sense of self-worth and identity.

Last year, 11 children under the age of 15 took their lives in Hong Kong, marking a historical high for suicide rates in this age group.

A study conducted by the Hong Kong Mental Health Association found that 70% of primary school students in Hong Kong experience anxiety related to academic pressure. Furthermore, academic pressure can also lead to physical health problems. Children who are constantly studying and have no time for physical activities may suffer from obesity and other related health problems. They may also experience headaches, muscle pain, and other physical symptoms due to stress.

The Hong Kong Paediatric Society recently conducted a study which found that 40% of primary school students in Hong Kong suffer from fatigue and exhaustion due to academic pressure.

Another danger of academic pressure is that it can lead to a narrow focus on academics at the expense of other important life skills. In Hong Kong, parents often prioritize academic success over other skills such as social skills, emotional intelligence, and creativity. This can lead to children who are academically strong but lack basic life skills such as communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. In the long run, this can hinder their overall success in life and in their careers.

A recent survey conducted by Lingnan University covering 35 regions found that Hong Kong children aged 10 and 12 ranked the two lowest for overall well-being. The survey covered areas such as freedom, family, health, leisure time use, and being listened to by adults.

Furthermore, academic pressure can also create a culture of cheating and dishonesty. In Hong Kong, there have been several cases of cheating and academic misconduct by students who feel like they have no other option but to cheat in order to succeed. This not only undermines the integrity of the education system but also creates a toxic culture where cheating is seen as a necessary means to an end.

Ultimately, the dangers of academic pressure on young children cannot be ignored. While it may be important for parents to encourage their children to do well academically, it is equally important to prioritize their mental and physical health, as well as their overall development as individuals.

Parents should encourage their children to pursue their interests and passions, and not just focus on academics. They should also create a supportive environment where children feel comfortable talking about their struggles and seeking help when needed. In addition, schools and educators also have an important role to play in addressing academic pressure. They can create a more holistic education system that values not just academic excellence but also other important life skills, as well as providing more support and resources to students who are struggling with academic pressure and mental health issues.

Academic pressure is a serious issue in Hong Kong that needs to be addressed. While academic success is important, it should not come at the expense of young children's mental and physical health, or their overall development as individuals.

Parents, educators, and society as a whole need to work together to create a more supportive and holistic education system that prioritizes the well-being of young children.

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