Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Monday, Mar 27, 2023

Hong Kong documentary on childhood sparks calls for rethink on consent

Hong Kong documentary on childhood sparks calls for rethink on consent

Consent forms signed by parents may be binding but expert says filmmakers should strike a balance between legality and ethics.

Documentarians should clearly communicate with their subjects and carefully consider the emotional impact the film may have on them, experts have warned, after a feature by award-winning Hong Kong director Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting raised questions about how young characters are treated.

Cheung’s To My Nineteen-year-old Self follows six students from the prestigious Ying Wa Girls’ school for a decade, focusing on their personal, family and school lives.

But Ah Ling, one of the six students, said the film was shown in public without her permission, as she had never read the consent form signed by her parents in 2012. The director, in response, suspended the public screening on Monday.

Ying Wa Girls’ School on Robinson Road in the Mid-Levels.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, a former journalist and a senior lecturer at Baptist University’s school of communication, said that while the consent form might be legally binding, filmmakers had to strike a balance between legality and ethics.

“As time goes by, and the social environment has become different, the interviewees may put more importance on [their own] privacy,” he said. “The issue is not only about whether written consent was given or not … but also whether the interviewees’ concerns are dealt with humanely … as it involves their greater interests.”

Lui stressed that creators of non-fiction work should never put their interests before those of their subjects.

“Journalists should listen to the subjects’ concerns at the early stage of the production and try their best to communicate,” he said. “Under the circumstances that no news values and ethics are violated, we should handle it with empathy.”

Lui suggested it would be ideal for the students to sign another consent form when they reached legal age.

The consent form signed by the students’ parents in 2012 allowed the school to use the documentary in any manner in or outside Hong Kong for purposes such as publication, screening, broadcast and public access, but Ah Ling said she was kept in the dark the whole time.

Apart from Ah Ling and another major character featured in the documentary, a third schoolgirl, Katie Kong, said she was told by the production team that five girls had consented to public screenings of the 136-minute film, and so she agreed as well.

Paul Wong Wai-ching, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor of social work at the University of Hong Kong, said some people might feel betrayed when years of their personal lives became public without their explicit consent.

“They may have a sense of guilt and be angry at themselves about why the consent form was signed,” he said. “In the long term, they may have less trust in others.”

Citing his own experience in doing research, Wong said the production crew should always clearly state the purposes and use of the materials during interviews, and provide communication channels for the students to voice any concerns and discomfort.

He suggested that students should also be informed that they could seek psychological help during the production if necessary.

Billy Wong Wai-yuk, executive secretary of the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights, said that any projects involving youngsters should be handled with caution because they could easily be manipulated by adults.

“For any event, in particular, research, consultation, documentation of the views, feelings and experience of children in the form of words or images, it is a very sensitive issue and one that needs to be handled with care,” she said.

Wong said adults involved in such work should develop a plan to safeguard minors involved and communicate directly in a way they can easily understand.

She added the filmmakers should ensure no harm was caused to the children involved and that they know where to complain if their rights were violated.

Citing United Nations’ guidelines, she said any project or event involving children should be transparent and informative in its goals and procedures, ensure an environment that is friendly for minors, and be voluntary, accountable and sensitive to risk.

Hou Wai-kai, an associate professor of psychology at the Education University of Hong Kong, also said the crew should have gauged the students’ feelings about the documentary when they were older before releasing it to the public.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Close
0:00
0:00
Singapore’s Prime Minister says China and US need to stabilize relations because world can't afford a confict between the two superpowers
Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, died at 94
In a dramatic U-turn against His Government: Judicial Reform Legislation Must Be Halted, Says Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pro democracy protest
Police violence in Paris
Paris: Some of the police are stepping down and showing solidarity with the protesters.
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Goldman Sachs cuts outlook for European bank debt over Credit Suisse crisis
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
The BBC problem about China
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
Announcing GPT-4
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
'No relation to the American SVB': India's SVC Bank acts to calm depositors amid brand name confusion.
Good news: The U.S. government is now guaranteeing all deposits, held by, Silicon Valley Bank, and the funds are available as of today
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
In a potential last-ditch effort, HSBC is considering a rescue deal to save Silicon Valley Bank UK from insolvency
Saudi Arabia has announced a major breakthrough in diplomacy with Iran after two years of intense talks
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
A primitive judge in Australia sparked outrage when he told a breastfeeding woman to leave his courtroom for being “a distraction"
Barcelona is feeling the heat as they face corruption charges over payments to former vice-president of Spain's referees' committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
The unelected UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, an immigrant himself, defends new controversial crackdown on illegal migration
Old clip of Bill Gates saying Ukraine is a big, fat, corrupt sinkhole is going viral
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
2 universities in Hong Kong embrace use of ChatGPT, other AI tools
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
Missing Chinese banker was working to set up Singapore family office
Hong Kong ditches Covid mask mandate after 945 days
Xi Jinping and His Wife Meet with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk
How do stolen goods end up on Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace?
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
×