‘Govt must review how it monitors foster care’

A member of the Commission on Children said on Thursday that the government must investigate its own monitoring of care towards foster children, following a report into alleged abuse at a children’s home in Prince Edward.

Speaking on RTHK’s Hong Kong Today programme, Priscilla Lui described the report into the Society for the Protection of Children’s residential home as “sad and shocking”, saying the findings reflected a culture of normalising ill-treatment of children which must be stopped.

“One particular investigation report is missing, and that particular report is from the government, from the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Social Welfare Department, regarding their monitoring duty and their duty of care towards these children, the very vulnerable groups,” she told RTHK’s Janice Wong.

She said monitoring measures implemented over the years “are important to be studied, to be reviewed and to be evaluated”.

The independent review, published on Wednesday, found that staff routinely subjected children to rough physical treatment and recommended all staff be replaced in phases.

Lui described the report as generally fair and open in tackling what she described as a “disastrous” situation, however she said she was worried by some of the descriptions used of the abuse, including references to “rough” treatment of children, which she said could normalise such actions.

The director of the society and the superintendent of the home have now resigned, and the report further recommended that all childcare staff should be gradually replaced.

The committee found 10 incidents that it said constituted abuse, including children being slapped or kicked around, shaken, thrown against a padded wall, and having their ears pulled.

It concluded that management must have been aware of how the children were treated, but considered this acceptable as there had been no intervention besides “mild reminders”.

Police are continuing their investigation into the case. Twenty people have been arrested so far.