Despairing Chinese Take It Out On School Children

by Gopalan on  May 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM General Health News
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 Despairing Chinese Take It Out On School Children
Despairing Chinese, left out of the so-called growth story, seem to be taking it out on hapless children.

A knife-wielding man attacked and injured 28 young children and three adults at a kindergarten in eastern China on Thursday in the third such attack in a month, state media reported.

Five of the children were in critical condition after the attack, which was carried out by a 47-year-old man in the city of Taixing, according to Xinhua news agency, citing officials and police.

The alleged assailant was detained following the incident in Jiangsu province, the report said.

Most of the injured children were just four years old. The adults injured were two teachers and a security guard, it said.

Various websites said there had been reports of up to four deaths in the morning attack, but an official with the Taixing city government told AFP it had so far received no such information.

"The gate-keeper, teachers, and students were attacked. The injured are receiving treatment in hospital. We don't have any reports of deaths yet," said the official, who declined to be named.

Photos posted on Chinese websites showed dozens of people gathered outside the school, many of them apparently frantic parents.

The attack comes just one day after a teacher who had been on sick leave since 2006 for mental problems injured at least 15 students and a teacher in a knife attack at a school in southern China.

In Wednesday's attack in Guangdong province, Chen Kanbing, 33, burst into a primary school in the city of Leizhou and began stabbing students, Xinhua said.

He then jumped from a school building in an apparent suicide attempt before being arrested by police, the China Daily said.

That attack occurred the same day that authorities in Fujian province in the southeast executed former doctor Zheng Minsheng for stabbing to death eight children on March 23.

Police said Zheng, 41, used a dagger to stab children in the neck, chest, stomach and back in a fit of rage and depression after splitting from his girlfriend. Five other children were seriously injured in the attack.

Zheng had admitted "intentionally killing" the children at a trial earlier this month, but had unsuccessfully appealed against the death penalty.

In Taixing, the city in Jiangsu Province, protesting parents took to the streets chanting, "We want the truth! We want our babies back!"

The current surge in such attacks seems to have unnerved the authorities. The education ministry has formed an emergency panel to tackle the violence and some local police authorities have distributed such instruments as steel pitchforks and pepper spray to security guards in schools.

China used to take pride in its low rate of violent crimes but now has to deal with them almost every day, leading many to ask what has caused the sudden surge of apparently random attacks.

The four attacks in March and April mirror a series of assaults in August and September 2004, in which students in four other schools and a day care center were attacked by knife-wielding men who stabbed dozens of children.

The wave of violence has been dubbed cases of "social revenge" in China.

Ji Jianlin, a professor of clinical psychology at Shanghai's Fudan University, says the incidents share some common features.

"The attackers all have grudges against society. They all try to take revenge by attacking the young and vulnerable," he says.

In part, it reflects the social tension caused by rampant corruption and inequality. But Prof Ji points out that there is a lack of social and psychological support in the rapidly changing society.

"In the past, China's workers used to have social support from the unions or women's associations. They used to provide quite adequate support. It's now quite weak."

This is especially true in smaller cities and towns. In a country where people used to be looked after from cradle to grave, the social change has not only left many Chinese without their traditional support mechanism but also pushed a large number of people into relative poverty.

And the income gap is widening further between the rich and poor.

This, coupled with a changed attitude towards life, has driven many to extremes in their desperate attempt to come to terms with the law of the jungle prevalent there, writes Shirong Chen, BBC's China Editor.

There is also the stigma in Chinese culture about people needing psychological counselling.

Family members and society as a whole tend to conceal or shun those with mental problems. This may partly lead to attackers failing to get help before they commit crimes.

Besides widespread reports of the attacks may have encouraged copycats. Three out of the four recent attacks were carried out with knives.

Stan Rosen, a University of Southern California political science professor who leads the university's East Asian Studies Center, noted that the Cultural Revolution under Mao was so violent in part because it unleashed the bottled rage of a society that had suffered famine, impoverishment and brutal rule — and had no outlet for its grief.

Thus the increasing hiatus and lack of outlets to represent grievances could together be said to be wreaking havoc on the country.

Source: Medindia

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