The Enhanced Smart Teen Project
Correctional Services Department, Education Bureau

Exemplary Services@Gov
2011

Fostering students' development outside the classroom

What causes some teenagers to start committing crimes? The Correctional Services Department (CSD) believes that part of the answer may be a lack of self-confidence and education about the consequences of a life of crime.

"The Education Bureau has provided us with an excellent opportunity to share positive and encouraging messages that help inspire teens to avoid a life of crime. The more we get these messages out, the larger our impact will be," said Ms Chung Lai Fong, an Assistant Officer I, who is an instructor at the CSD's Smart Teen Challenge Camp.

To really get positive messages through to teens, the CSD decided to "go outside its own brick walls" to enhance students' self-discipline, confidence and resilience. The Education Bureau shares the CSD's belief in taking an "outside-the-classroom" approach to foster students' holistic development. Mrs Harmony Kwok, a Senior Inspector at the Education Bureau who is responsible for coordinating the camp, said that the strict and stern image of the CSD's disciplinary force helps set an example for students to develop their self-discipline.

Curing "prince and princess syndrome"

With barred windows, guard towers, and manicured lawns, the CSD Staff Training Institute provides the perfect backdrop to emphasise the Smart Teen Challenge Camp's focus on discipline. The camp uses a dedicated coach model that enlists the CSD officers to guide students throughout the camp to develop a sense of independence and responsibility away from their parents. Activities at the camp – including foot drills, physical fitness exercises, trying "prisoners' meals", adventure training and orienteering – are designed to enhance the participants' self- discipline, self-confidence, problem solving skills and team spirit.

The camp also includes a "correctional" segment that gives students insight into what it is like "behind bars" through a simulated incarcerated experience and meetings with juvenile offenders. These activities help teens understand the importance of respect for the law and self-control.

Personal growth through heartfelt dialogues

Education Bureau staff and teachers work together with CSD staff during the camp to regularly review and fine tune the programme as needed to ensure that the training continues to be effective.

One of the programme's highlights is the night-chat sessions between teachers and students, which allow teachers and students to put aside their roles in the classroom and communicate freely. Both teachers and students highly value these sessions and wish they could bring this level of communication to their campus life.

Through the concerted efforts of these two departments, students come away from the camp with a greater sense of self-discipline. According to the Education Bureau's "Data Analysis on the Outcome Evaluation", students' self-confidence and resilience substantially* increased by 7.22% and 4.92% respectively after participating in the "Smart Teen Challenge Camp". (*Note: A mean difference of 5% indicates a significant positive change.)

Students are not the only ones who learn from the camp; the civil servants who work on the programme also find the experience rewarding. "There are certain prejudices ingrained in our society against teens, but [during the camp] the instructors come to learn how to put aside their own preconceived notions," said Mr Chung Kui Man, Chief Officer of the Correctional Services Department.

As demands from the public for quality service increases, "learning to listen" is undoubtedly the key to success.

Smart Teen Challenge Camp 5-Day 4-Night Programme Highlights

  • "Beyond Classroom" Training: Building self-discipline, self-confidence, problem solving skills and team spirit through activities such as foot drills, physical fitness exercises, adventure training and orienteering.
  • Meeting with Prisoners: Strengthening students' anti-crime awareness through understanding the mentality of juvenile offenders, how they went astray and how they are rehabilitating themselves.
  • Dialogue between teachers and students: Enabling sincere communication between teachers and students by going outside the limitations of classroom dialogue.

The CSD and the EDB share the same belief in fostering students' development outside the classroom.
The CSD and the EDB share the same belief in fostering students' development outside the classroom.
A dedicated coach guides students throughout the Camp.
A dedicated coach guides students throughout the Camp.
Students participate in orienteering activities.
Students participate in orienteering activities.
Students give special thanks to instructors.
Students give special thanks to instructors.