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Brothers burned by boy while copying TV scene

By Wang Qingyun  (China Daily)

08:35, May 08, 2013

Brothers Li Haoran and Li Hao receive treatment for serious burns at the First Affiliated Hospital of PLA General Hospital in Beijing. They were allegedly set on fire by another child, mimicking a scene in a popular animated TV series. Provided to China Daily

Two young brothers from Jiangsu province, seriously burned while imitating a scene from a TV animation series, were admitted to a Beijing hospital on Tuesday.

The boys, Li Hao, 4, and Li Haoran, 8, from Mawang village, Donghai county in Lianyungang city, are being treated at the First Affiliated Hospital of PLA General Hospital.

The hospital said the 4-year-old is in serious condition, while his brother is out of danger.

Li Kang, the boys' father, said he and his wife took their sons with them when they did farm work on April 6, but they ran away, played with a 9-year-old boy and ended up being tied to trees and set on fire.

"The boy who started the fire said they were playing out a kidnapping scene from Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. But no adults knew what was going on and my sons don't want to talk about it," he said.

Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is a popular Chinese animation series. It features a wolf who tries to catch a goat, and depicts scenes of the wolf cooking the goat alive in a pot, with the goat always escaping, and the wolf being battered over the head by his wife with a pan.

The boys' parents said their sons like to watch the series. "They watched it almost every day," said Wang Changrong, the mother.

"My younger son said he was tied to a tree and couldn't get away," she said

The father said: "Many villagers make brooms for a living. There were many bamboo branches on the ground. When he (the other boy) set fire to my sons, the fire spread so quickly that it soon got out of control. The man who saved my sons had his cotton-padded coat burned after trying to put out the fire."

Liu Yan, a professor at Beijing Normal University, said, "A basic principle for children's shows is that they (such programs) mustn't contain violence, because it's a source for children's copycat games."

On April 1, a 5-year-old girl in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, fell from the sixth-floor of a building holding an umbrella and breaking her bones and receiving internal injuries. A witness said she did this possibly because she wanted to imitate scenes from TV shows.

In 2010, a 4-year-old boy in Wuhan, Hubei province, fell from an eighth-floor window at his home. His mother said he was probably attempting to "fly" like Ultraman, a Japanese science fiction character.

Liu said: "It's children's nature to imitate heroic adults, such as military men and policemen. Kindergartens and parents should satisfy such needs, such as allowing them to do role-playing games.

"However, many kindergartens focus on teaching reading and arithmetic, and don't allow children to play much, fearing possible danger."

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