Young people who have experienced violence are much more likely to be involved in more violence later in life, a new study shows. The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) and City University's (CityU) department of applied social science spoke with 118 at-risk young people with assault records, and 218 secondary school students and first-year university students from December last year to February.
They found that 47 per cent of young people who are at risk had been involved in gang fights in the past year, and 42 per cent had been involved in one-on-one fights. Compared to the group of students with no assault record, only nine per cent said they have been involved in violence.
Ar Wai (not his real name), 20, was part of a gang fight at an arcade a few years ago. A victim of domestic violence as a child, he was led to believe that violence is an answer to problems. "My classmate kept saying things to provoke me. I was really angry. I thought I could solve the problem by punching someone," he says.
Eric Chui Wing-hong, professor in applied social sciences at CityU, said it is common for young people who have witnessed violence or are victims of violence to behave in a violent way. "It is a vicious circle: they see people get hit or they get hit, and they become violent," he says.
Wilson Chan Man-ho, supervisor of the HKFYG Youth Crime Prevention Centre, thinks youth violence is a problem that society should pay more attention to. "Every year young people are sent to correctional institutions because of violent crimes. We need to [teach] young people that assault is a serious crime," he says.