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Homework pushes mothers into violence

Hong Kong. Homework is being blamed for the increase in physical abuse of young children in Asian countries. It had been believed that low educational levels of women and the pressures of making a living caused the stress leading to abuse.

However, a study by Hong Kong's Baptist University has found the pressure on parents to ensure children perform well in school, and the heavy load of homework given to children as young as three, puts huge stress on mothers.

"Women are held responsible for their child's performance at school," said Angela Tsun, associate professor of social work at Baptist University. According to the Baptist study, the majority of children physically abused by their mothers are aged six to 11 - the primary school years.

Paradoxically, in Hong Kong, where home help is the norm for middle-class mothers, the time of greatest pressure for working mothers is not the baby and toddler years but when the children start primary school and get homework which cannot be supervised by the maid.

A typical working mother must come home to supervise two to three hours of homework per child.

Homework pressure is behind the massive growth in private after-school tutorial companies that take the burden off middle-class parents. However, poorer families cannot afford to farm out the homework supervision burden.

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