英國、瑞典、澳洲和新西蘭的青年政策的另一個特點是它們對青年的態度——它們都著重青年的正面特質，並不把青年視為問題。拿英國2011 – 2015年的青年政策為例，強調給年輕人提供機會，讓他們發展所長，新西蘭也有著類此的聲明。瑞典青年政策的三大支柱的其中之一是讓青年自給自足、掌握自己的人生。另一方面，日本、蒙古和澳門的青年政策展示出一種負面的心態，以風險管理、預防偏差行為為中心 。日本主要以輔導方式解決青年問題，包括兼職並經常轉工的青年、啃老族（意謂沒有受教育或培訓，又不是在工作的青年）、退學青年、犯罪行為等。蒙古主要通過社會福利措施，減少對青年的風險和傷害。澳門以預防青年犯罪作為其政策的主要目標之一。英國、瑞典、澳洲和新西蘭在制訂青年政策時都有諮詢過年輕人，相反，沒有任何證據顯示日本和蒙古當局進行過大型諮詢，而這有否影響各地青年政策的內容，值得大家細想。
What should our youth policy look like?
Previously, we talked about how Hong Kong nearly had a youth policy in the 1980s. By “youth policy”, the Central Committee on Youth (CCY) was referring to a high-level, visionary statement of the aspirations and goals for Hong Kong youth and general principles for their development, based on Hong Kong’s developmental trends. CCY decided against a policy with concrete measures, because the public had different opinions and it would not be cost-effective to regularly review specific measures given the lead time in implementation.
I have reviewed youth policies in certain countries and regions, including the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden, Australia, New Zealand (NZ), Japan, Mongolia and Macau. They display subtle differences (for details, please see the tables below), but together they demonstrate what a youth policy should not be – a laundry list of measures relating to youth but without a unifying vision. UK, Sweden, Australia, NZ and Macau adopt a holistic approach, setting a long-term vision for their young people. This vision guides all youth-related measures, and there is a central coordinating body to ensure this; its other function is of course to allocate resources and avoid duplication of efforts. Japan’s and Mongolia’s policies are more fragmented, with measures in education, employment and welfare, but scattered across government departments without a central rationale or coordination.
Another feature that the UK, Sweden, Australia and NZ have in common is their attitude towards youth – one of positive empowerment, rather than negative problem-solution. UK, for instance, named its 2011-2015 policy Positive for Youth; much like New Zealand, it stresses on providing youth with opportunities and developing their capabilities. One of the three pillars of the Swedish policy is self-sufficiency – to give youth a real possibility to influence their everyday lives. On the other hand, Japan, Mongolia and Macau demonstrate a risk-centered mentality. Japan’s policy talks much about youth problems, e.g., “freeters” (job-hopping part-time workers), NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment or Training”), school withdrawal and delinquency, and uses counseling as the main solution. Mongolia protects youth against harms primarily through social welfare measures. Macau has juvenile delinquency prevention as one of its key objectives. Coincidentally or perhaps not so coincidentally, the first four countries consulted young people in the process of formulating their youth policies, whereas there was no evidence of any official, large-scale consultation in Japan or Mongolia.
A youth policy, like any other policy, must suit local circumstances and needs. The holistic, resilience model in the UK may not work well in the economic, social and cultural setting of Japan, and vice versa. If we were to simplify these policies into two categories, UK, Sweden, Australia and NZ seem to be on one end of the spectrum, while Japan and Mongolia seem to be on the other end, with Macau being somewhere in between. It was a shame that the CCY’s proposal for a youth policy in Hong Kong was not accepted, but if it were, what should Hong Kong’s youth policy look like?
(To be continued…)