Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dangerous Profession

October was not a good month for teachers in China.

Three were killed by their own students.

On October 4, 16-year-old Li Ming of Suzhou No. 2 Middle School in Shanxi stabbed his teacher Hao Xudong, 23, to death with a knife.

Li's parents began divorce proceedings last month and according to news reports, he wrote in his diary: "Nobody cares about me. I hate society and teachers".

Tragedy struck again on October 21, when another 16-year-old, Ding Yutian, strangled his teacher Pan Weixian to death when she visited his home.

He had played hooky the day before and hung out at an Internet Cafe.

Ding was living with his grandparents as his parents also split up a few years ago.

Then on October 29, a final year student surnamed Fu used a kitchen knife to stab his professor Cheng Chunming at the University of Political Science and Law in Beijing's Changping District.

He attacked Cheng, 43, as class was about to start, in front of several students. Cheng died of excessive blood loss from knife wounds in the neck.

The Beijing News has now quoted police as saying Fu's motive for the attack was that Cheng was involved with Fu's girlfriend. Complicating matters is that Cheng left behind a wife who is five months' pregnant.

Regardless, in the above three cases, do people really think murder is the solution to their problems?

The Ministry of Education blames these incidents on the lack of moral education and psychological counselling.

Figures from the Ministry of Health say China has 340 million young people under the age of 17. And about 22 to 32 percent of them have personality problems.

That means there could be 75-108 million young people that are ticking time bombs with irrational behaviour.

What is really the problem are the parents.

A small percentage are from wealthy families who indulge their child to no end, and giving their son or daughter the impression that there are no limits on their behaviour.

Then there are those working families who basically raise latch-key kids, children who are left to their own devices for most of the time, and their mothers and fathers are either too tired to parent them or don't know how to teach them what is right or wrong.

Some of these working families don't even live with their children -- they leave their children behind with grandparents in villages or other towns, who are not really in a position or have the energy to parent the kids.

What it all boils down to is neglect.

A colleague who used to be a teacher was horrified to read about these attacks. She says if people don't have time to look after a child they shouldn't even have one.

She's right, but it's societal pressure and couples' parents who expect them to have their only grandchild.

It's a vicious cycle, but more must be done to teach parents that good parenting must start from the beginning, otherwise you could end up with a problem child... who thinks killing someone is the only way to get attention.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, I don't think that any top-down solutions are available to combat this prevalent societal problem. Calls for "moral education" sound a lot to me like calls for "abstinence only education" as the only way to combat teen pregnancy in the US. Such an imprecise corrective measure doesn't really address the core issues. While murder should never be acceptable, the causes should become evident given close investigation. I think it would be best to start a nationwide investigation on this phenomenon, so we can accurately diagnose the problem (parental neglect? That could be a possibility, but more data would be required). But given the track record of the Chinese government, I'm not too optimistic that they'll humble themselves to a level necessary to seriously address these social problems. After all, they've got an economy to develop!

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