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A mother's outcry puts school bullying in spotlight

(Xinhua)    10:19, December 11, 2016

A Beijing mother's article describing how her 10-year-old son was bullied at school went viral, bringing back memories for Chinese people who were bullied and triggering widespread discussion on parenting.

Zhongguancun Second Primary School, a renowned primary school in Haidian District, on Saturday morning issued a statement saying it has been communicating with parents on both sides, and called for the public to let the school handle the situation.

"The school has been actively talking with the relevant parents to solve the dispute objectively and fairly. Further effort will be made to achieve an outcome that is recognized by all parties," it said.

After having a toilet waste-paper basket thrown on his head and being mocked by other classmates, the fourth-grade boy was diagnosed with acute stress disorder, a mental illness characterized by severe anxiety, according to the article published online Thursday.

It said the school described the case as a "joke that went too far," and that the parents of the boy who threw the basket believed their son was "just being naughty."

The mother wrote that her son had been bullied for almost a year by his classmate.

The father, surnamed Wang, told Xinhua that his son is still emotionally unstable and not currently going to school.

"We are accompanying him to adjust, and he will not return to school until the case is closed," he said.

The parents of the bully have not yet answered their phone calls.

Although the article has not been verified by the other party or the authorities, it has been shared over 100,000 times on WeChat, and read over 6 million times on Weibo, a Twitter-like service.

People expressed their outrage over the matter, and recalled their past experiences of being bullied.

One web user, an apparent left-behind child who grew up with her grandmother, said she had been dragged by her hair and spat on during kindergarten and up to fourth grade in primary school.

"When I reported it to my teacher, he threw a question back in my face, 'why were you the only one being bullied?'" she recalled in her post, adding that the bullying did not stop until she was transferred to another school.

Another web user said she was sent to hospital for a week.

"The violent guys had good academic scores, and I was ugly and slow in school. The teacher just turned a blind eye," she said.

"My sense of inferiority has haunted me since then," she said, adding that the bullying she suffered at school has influenced her life.

The case has sparked discussion online on how to educate children to prevent them from being bullied.

An online survey on Weibo, which has drawn 100,000 participants, showed nearly two-thirds of parents would advise their children to take "a tooth for a tooth" response to bullying.

"I will tell my kid not to initiate a violent fight, but if he is bullied he has to fight back," one web user wrote.

Bullying and violence at schools and colleges have been widely reported in recent years. In late April, a video that showed a schoolgirl being repeatedly slapped by a group of older girls went viral.

In June 2014, another online video showed several teenagers in eastern Zhejiang Province burning a first-grade boy with cigarettes.

Last year, a junior-high student jumped from the fourth floor of a school building as he "just could not tolerate being bullied every day any longer."

Last month education guidelines, including advice on how to deal with bullying, were released as the country moves to address violence among students.

The guidelines, jointly released by nine organs including the Ministry of Education, the Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, ordered schools to be aware of the consequences of bullying and violence, and that officials should be held accountable for serious incidents of bullying or violence in areas under their jurisdiction.

Students with severe behavioral problems should be transferred to special schools suitable to their needs, or in more serious cases should receive administrative or criminal penalties, the guidelines said.

An official with the Beijing Municipal Education Commission told Xinhua that it had ordered the district commission of education and the school to properly deal with the case.

Haidian District Commission of Education has not answered phone calls from Xinhua.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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