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Hong Kong Caritas counsels against criminal sexual behavior

Priests and laypeople are among those who have sought help under the treatment and prevention program

Hong Kong Caritas counsels against criminal sexual behavior

Social worker Patrick Wong (left) and team supervisor Francis Kong Po-cheung from the Caritas Specialized Treatment and Prevention Project. (ucanews.com photo)

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

October 10, 2017

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Priests and laypeople are among the more than 600 people who have sought to end their criminal sexual behavior through a treatment and prevention program run by Caritas in Hong Kong.

Francis Kong Po-cheung, project supervisor with Caritas Specialized Treatment and Prevention Project Against Sexual Violence, said 610 people have participated in the program. Among them, Kong said, "where a few priests and laypeople" who have taken part since the program began in 2008.

Kong said it takes a lot of courage for them to take the first step in facing their problems. The program conducts personal counseling to help people get rid of criminal sexual behavior. Group sharing and mutual help groups are also available.

Kong said the priests and laypeople participating in the program had to have halted their criminal sexual activities for a lengthy period before joining.

They still wanted to resolve their problems and seek radical change, said Kong. With the support of religious beliefs, most of them could break through their dilemma, he said.

"Family support is also very important. It is a driving force for the offenders especially those who come from Christian families," Kong said.

After understanding the seriousness of any criminal behavior committed by someone partaking in the program, Kong and his co-workers would advise them to surrender to the police. He said the police would only record the cases.

"Since in Hong Kong, a defendant could not be sued without a plaintiff. And the offenders who come to us mostly committed clandestine photo-taking," Kong said. "It was very difficult to find the plaintiff since the crime just took place in the street randomly."

But he said that for the offenders, it was a big step for them to report to the police. The social worker said they would also report any suspected criminal activity to the police.

"Most of our cases come to seek consultation on their own initiative," said Kong.

The most common illegal activity of those who sought help through the program was clandestine photo-taking which accounted for 39 percent of the 610 cases, followed by indecent assault of adults which accounted for 26 percent of cases while indecent assault on children accounted for 15 percent.

The vast majority (97.8 percent) of the 186 people who took part in the program in 2015 and 2016 have not reengaged in criminal sexual activity or said they don't have an intention to commit such acts again.

Among those who sought help through the 2015-16 program, 33 percent were aged between 21 to 30 and 26 percent were 30-40 years of age. Eighteen percent were aged 41-50 while the remaining numbers were at the extreme ends of the age spectrum.

Only one woman has sought help through the program.

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