Research findings showed that secondary school students in Hong Kong face many challenges. In particular, morbid emphasis on academic excellence has created much competition and stress in high school students. It was estimated that around one-fifth of secondary school students in Hong Kong had different forms of mental disorders. In a three-year longitudinal study, it was found that the prevalence rates of Internet addiction in Secondary 1, Secondary 2 and Secondary 3 students were 26.4%, 26.6% and 22.5%, respectively. In the same study, suicidal ideation in junior secondary school students was found in more than one-tenth of the students. At the same time, there were more than two-tenths of students showing signs of self-harm and suicidal behavior in junior secondary years. The number of adolescents experiencing economic disadvantage has increased while family solidarity has dropped in recent years.
In spite of these adolescent developmental issues, the lack of life education and life skills training in secondary school students has made the situation worse. Although moral and civic education is one of the pillars in the new 6-year secondary school curriculum, there are several problems involved. First, the coverage on social and emotional learning in the curriculum guide is very thin. Second, although there are curricula materials on life skills training in the field, validated curricula are almost non-existent. In fact, in a review of adolescent prevention and positive youth development programs in Asia, Shek and Yu pointed out that there were very few validated evidence-based programs in Hong Kong. Third, training in social-emotional learning and adolescent prevention programs is grossly inadequate in Hong Kong. Finally, while nobody would dispute the importance of life skills and psychosocial competence, such topics are seldom taught in depth in the school contexts. (Imprint: Nova)