Hong Kong’s Ombudsman has launched an inquiry into the behaviour of park security guards, Transit Jam has learned, after complaints from parents that guards were systematically scolding scooter and bike riders as young as two.
Scores of parents have complained that Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) guards’ recent habit of aggressively targeting very young children amounted to bullying, reveals a source close to LCSD.
Three parents had separately contacted Transit Jam about guards banning toddlers scooting in Sun Yat Sen Park, Victoria Park and Hong Kong Botanical Gardens in just the last few weeks. Guards, they say, are particularly aggressive with those small children playing balance bikes or scooters. “They come right at us and won’t leave us alone,” said one.
Parents are also confused whether the rules allow such games or not. Last June, LCSD said it would open up 19 parks for “toddlers to play balance bikes”, with posters at some venues claiming small three-wheeled scooters and balance bikes were acceptable. But in January this year, the posters were removed and, according to guards at several of the venues, including Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, balance biking and scootering are now banned. LCSD’s website still lists those venues as “balance bike-friendly”.
District Councillor Napo Wong Weng-chi says while balance bikes should be allowed, according to current rules, the guidelines on scooters or bikes are vague. He says LCSD had recently contacted Central & Western District Council to discuss a potential relaxation or change in the rules, without divulging further details.
The Ombudsman says its investigation into bullying will take three to six months to complete. LCSD has not responded to questions.