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Closer Parent-child Relationship, Higher Decision-making Ability
The Salvation Army Research on Young Night Drifters’ Decision-making Ability
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Since 2001, The Salvation Army Services for Young Night Drifters has been reaching the young people wandering the streets in Tuen Mun. To review the situation of the young night drifters, the Army conducted a research on their decision-making ability. 166 service users aged 12 to 29 were interviewed in Tuen Mun from the end of November 2015 to January 2016. The research showed that in general, their abilities in self-control and making choices were not bad (table 2). However, nearly 40% of the interviewees were not living with their biological parents, which was six times higher than the average in Hong Kong. One-third of the interviewees were looked after by people other than their biological father or mother. Those having a good relationship with father or mother perceived themselves as people with higher self-control and decision-making abilities. It reflected the significance of care and guidance of biological parents to the growth of young people.        
 
The young interviewees thought that they were capable of making their own decisions related to daily life (average 3.4 points, maximum 5 points). Impact on future, influence of parents and one's own ability (table 3) were key factors affecting their decisions. More than 80% would listen to others’ viewpoints, over 70% would analyse pros and cons, and about 60% would assess their own abilities (table 4). They were confident in making the right decisions, which showed that the young night drifters were not reckless and merely driven by feelings.
 
According to the research, if the young interviewees were capable of managing their finance, their decision-making ability would be relatively higher. Father or mother was their role model of financial management. When they made decisions related to drug abuse and sex-related behaviour, they would refer to someone with similar experience and peers in family (i.e. siblings).
  
Nearly 40% of the interviewees were not living with their biological parents, which was six times of the results (6%) of the Hong Kong census 2011. One-third of the interviwees were not looked after by their biological parents (table 1). Many young night drifters have a complicated family. 
 
The interviewees having a good relationship with father or mother gave themselves higher points in the aspects of self-control, parental influence and making choices. It showed the significance of care and guidance of biological parents to the growth of young people (table 5). 
 
Case: Kaki Sham, aged 26
 
Actor, director and a member of the singing group “PlayTime”. Starred in High Noon and Weeds on Fire. After graduating from secondary school, he has tried different jobs. Although he dreamed of becoming an actor, he had not found any opportunities. He played football at leisure and wandered the streets with friends. Since 2006, he has joined the Salvation Army Services for Young Night Drifters, engaging in various activities to cultivate interests. Then in 2007, he had an opportunity to be an actor in High Noon, and started to develop his interest in film shooting and editing. At 18, he directed his first documentary Life Must Go On and won the gold award in Youth Category of the 14th ifva Award. Over the years, he has committed to the work in the foreground and behind the scenes. Director’s appreciation and family support have encouraged him to pursue his dream. 
 
In 2014, he assisted The Salvation Army Services for Young Night Drifters to launch a filming project “Live Again”, leading service users to produce a micro film to relfect the mentality of young drug addicts in different angles and demonstrate the efforts of the production team.
 
Conclusion and Suggestions
 
  • Everyone is unique and has his/ her own strengths, including the young night drifters. The Salvation Army helps develop their potentials and cultivate their interests so as to build their self-confidence and a positive self-image.
  • Young night drifters may consider different factors and understand their own constraints when they make decisions. Information provision and knowledge transfer can help them think thoroughly and make a more mature, responsible and suitable decision.
  • Biological parents have an irreplaceable influence on the youth. Living with or being looked after by biological parents can help young night drifters boost their self-control and decision-making abilities. Therefore, when Salvation Army social workers assist the youth, we also contact their parents to facilitate their mutual communication and encourage parents to understand the needs of their children.
  • Everyone has the ability to think and act independently. Parents are encouraged to believe their children’s analytical thinking ability and respect their ideas. The youth need guidance to build their own self-confidence in a supporting atmosphere. 
  • It is suggested that the public contact young night drifters with an open mind, understand their strengths and potentials, and show appreciation of their efforts.
 
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