Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Asian Spoils

But I’m soooo worth it...

China’s one-child policy has long raised fears about an emerging generation of princelings and little princesses. A survey in Korea highlighted in January in this column showed that country’s youths valued money more highly than ethics. Now, this SCMP article on spoiled children in Hong Kong reports that Hong Kong’s children (average age of 11) have an elevated level of narcissism. Interestingly, a study conducted of 9,400 youngsters came up with a numeric score of perceived self-worth based on a 14-point scale. Hong Kong’s kids were rated 3.89. This doesn’t sound high, except when compared to the US, UK and Australia, which had ratings of 2.9, 2.36 and 2.81, respectively. The author of the study also said that 16% of the Hong Kong children showed signs of aggression and bullying and even higher scores commensurate with that of juvenile criminals in the US and Canada.
By and large, Asians are a hard-working bunch, and they put huge premiums on the achievement of their children in evaluating the status and wealth of the family. However, when such success is narrowly defined in terms of an academic score or the brand of a school, it comes at a cost. Human beings are complex social creatures, constantly at tug-of-war with conflicting instincts. Sending conflicting messages to our kids that they deserve privilege and yet must also work their butts off to achieve it surely cannot help.

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