College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
At-risk Youths at Focal Point of Discussion

With an aim to connect academics, professionals, policy-makers, and practitioners for sharing ideas and experience, as well as developing initiatives for the implementation of at-risk youth services, the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences of CLASS organised the 2nd International Conference on Outreach Work 2019 themed “Drug Abuse, Hidden Youth and Signature Programmes” from 10 to 13 June 2019. The Hong Kong Correctional Services Department, four universities in Mainland China, Macau and Canada, and over 20 social service organisations in Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau have been the co-organisers of this large-scale event. 

The conference was kicked off by three plenary sessions. The presentation by Dr John Chee-meng WONG of the National University of Singapore and National University Hospital highlighted the current trend and key emerging mental health issues, and discusses how these problems can be addressed, whereas Professor Siu-ming KWOK from University of Calgary, Canada shared the results of a literature review on Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, the law that governs Canada’s youth justice system. Also among the presenters was Professor Agnes Koon-chui LAW from Qi Chuang (Hong Kong) Social Services Network, who discussed the lesson learnt from Guangdong’s government policy and intervention models for preventing juvenile delinquency.

An array of signature programmes and special sessions followed. Each of the three signature programmes comprised three sessions featuring the sharing by representatives of various social service institutions. Their focus lay on a wide spectrum of subjects including body-mind-spirit and delinquency, drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation, outreach services, innovative anti-drug addiction intervention, sex workers and sex education, outreach and cyber world, and more. The three sessions of each programme took place at the same time, so the participants may attend those of their greatest interest. 

The four special sessions were titled “Outreach Work in Singapore”, “Drugs Addiction and Rehabilitation”, “Hikikomori / Hidden Youth” and “Animal Assisted Therapy”, in which speakers were invited to share their expertise, researches, hands-on experience and best practices in handling youth issues.

When the time at the lecture theatre and meeting rooms came to an end, the participants were arranged to visit one of the selected services sites which provide services to drug abusers, young offenders or hidden youths, or education centres for the prevention of youth problems and crime. 

Taken home the reference from the successful example of other places, in addition to the insights gained from the presentations, sharing, discussions and site visits by the professional and passionate participants, we can optimistically hope that new lights on helping youths can be shed.

Photo 1: The conference provides a platform for participants to learn from each other, according to Professor Wing Lo, Head of Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences and Chairperson of the conference’s organising committee.

Photo 2: A little celebration for the enlightening exchange of ideas and the way paved for future collaboration!