One in three liberal studies teachers in Hong Kong believe it is acceptable for police to use torture when interrogating suspected criminals, a survey published Friday said.

The survey of 791 liberal studies teachers found that more than half of the respondents said they would be willing to give up human rights to ensure social stability and harmony.

Fifty-five per cent also said freedom from corporal punishment at the hands of their parents was not a child’s right.

Researchers at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, who carried out the study, concluded that negative attitudes and misconceptions identified in the survey could be the result of the government’s neglect of human rights education.

Leung Yan-wing, principal investigator of the project, said he was shocked by the results and was worried it could lead to erosion in awareness of human rights among future generations.

“Liberal studies teachers’ attitudes towards an understanding of human rights and the rule of law have direct impact on cultivating a society with respect for human rights and social justice,” Leung said.

Liberal studies was introduced as a compulsory subject in the city in 2009. It is aimed at equipping children with critical thinking skills and knowledge of important issues that affect the society.

Human rights such as freedom of speech are guaranteed in Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” method of government, adopted when the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

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