Research by social scientists at City University in Hong Kong in 2013 could help explain why in 2019 some young Hong Kong protesters have turned to violence in their anti-China campaign. This 2013 article by Dennis Chong of the South China Morning Post summarises the research findings.
“Monster” parents in Hong Kong are turning out a generation of spoiled brats who have an inflated view of their abilities and may resort to aggression to get ahead, a City University study warns.
Annis Fung, associate professor in the department of applied social studies, said Hong Kong children rated themselves a lot more highly than youngsters in the West – to an extent that some are at risk of developing disorders that could turn them into violent offenders.
“The city is at high risk as it is producing spoiled children who are overconfident about themselves,” Fung said yesterday.
She tested 9,400 pupils with an average age of 11 using an antisocial process screening device (APSD) – a questionnaire that detects antisocial traits. The average level of narcissism displayed by youngsters in the city was 3.89 on a 14-point scale – higher than the 2.9 for children in the United States, 2.36 in the United Kingdom and 2.81 in Australia.
The test measures children’s self-regard and their views of the outside world, as well as their means of achieving their desires.
Fung said she was worried because 16 per cent of children showed signs that they were aggressors or tended to bully, while similar studies in the US found about 10 per cent of children with such a tendency. This category of children had an APSD score of 6.23, similar to that of adolescent criminals in the US and Canada.
“Action must be taken. We don’t want murders,” she said, adding such children may try to achieve their goals without thinking of the consequences.
Fung said the study was the first of its kind in Hong Kong.
Registered social worker Cecilia Ng Kam-kuen said that Hong Kong’s outcome-based education system encouraged people to be more selfish and “only look at the results”. Such a culture is likely to influence children and make them self-centered.
Fung warned: “Parents are giving too many things to their kids, making them feel good about themselves. Such monster parents overprotect and make children narcissistic. This can be potentially dangerous.”
Classic signs of a narcissist
- Fake expressions of emotion
- Over-regard for one’s abilities and achievements
- Getting ahead by cheating and using others
- A tendency to tease and play pranks
- Using charm to seek benefits
- Being upset by dissenting opinions
- A sense of superiority
This article appears on the SCMP website under the headline Hong Kong parents raising ‘spoiled brats’, warns study. The print version of the same article appeared on 24 April 2013 as: ‘Spoilt generation’ out for themselves.
John Wallace is director of the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, a not-for-profit running professional development programs and exchanges for journalists in the Asia Pacific region. Before that he was associate professor of journalism at the University of Queensland. He has worked as a journalist with the ABC, The Age, Reuters and Nation Review, where he was news editor.