In order to gain a better understanding on how students
might have felt and responded to SARS, HKCS launched
a survey when classes resumed after the 'Atypical vacation'.
Questionnaires were sent to 22 schools. A total of 920
students from Form 1 to Form 4 and from Form 6 had responded.
Among them, 84% students were from schools that had
no reported infected case ("Uninfected") while
the remaining 16% were from those who had "Infected".
The outcome showed that there were significant differences
between students from the two categories.
Firstly, students suffered from symptoms of stress,
such as headache, lower back pain, poor appetite, mood
swing, insomnia, fear and depression, was seen to be
relatively low among the "Infected" group.
Secondly, it was noted that having to face the SARS
crisis had actually enhanced the relationship between
students and teachers. Rather than feeling concerned
if SARS would negatively affect the relationship between
fellow students or between students and teachers, students
from the "Infected" group claimed that both
teachers and students became more cooperative and considerate
than they used to be before the SARS epidemic. Finally,
students from the "Infected" group were more
ready to express their fears and anxiety to others,
a difference of 11% higher, than those in the "Uninffected"
group. Besides, their willingness to seek help was very
strong. Among 93%, who had received some degree of counseling,
expressed that they were effectively helped to deal
with their feelings. Up to 71% of those students, however,
preferred to express their emotions to their schoolmates.
The service supervisor of HKCS School Social Work Service,
Ms Alice Ling, encourages professionals from the educational
field, as well as youth workers, to utilize such experience
of SARS to train up young people correct ways and attitudes
in dealing with crisis and adversities, to strengthen
human relationships and to model to them the responsibilities
of being a citizen. The results of the survey point
us toward a promising direction and show us that young
people possess such potential to acquire all the right
qualities in crisis intervention. Furthermore, it also
shows us that 'schoolmates' are a group of crucial supportive
system in times of crisis. These areas are indeed worthwhile
to be explored and developed.