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Primary Student’s Moving Essay on Teacher’s Abuse Goes Viral on Chinese Social Media

A primary school student’s essay about a teacher’s scoldings and beatings has gone viral on Chinese social media. “Teacher, What I Want To Tell You” has stirred widespread discussions about emotional abuse and corporal punishment in China’s classrooms.

Manya Koetse

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A primary school student’s essay about a teacher’s scoldings and beatings has gone viral on Chinese social media. “Teacher, What I Want To Tell You” has stirred widespread discussions about emotional abuse and corporal punishment in China’s classrooms.

An essay of 2000 characters written by a primary school student from Lüliang in Shanxi province has gone viral on WeChat and Sina Weibo. The essay, titled “Teacher, What I Want to Tell You” (“老师我想对您说”), has triggered thousands of shares and comments from Chinese netizens.

Over recent years, the issue of corporal punishment at school has been a recurring topic of debate on Chinese social media.

In the much-shared essay, a fourth grader writes about how she1 feels when her teacher punishes and degrades her. In seven pages, she writes down what she wants to tell her teacher after suffering abuse since the first grade. China’s first graders in primary school are usually around the age of 6; fourth graders are 9-10 years of age.

 

“I try all I can to be a good kid in your eyes.”

 

The young student writes:

“Teacher, I really do not know what I did for you to be so dissatisfied with me. I clearly remember when I first had you as my teacher in the first grade, on the fifth day you flung my book in my face (..) I will never forget your expression at that time. I have been scared of you ever since.”

Further on in the essay she writes:

“I try all I can to be a good kid in your eyes, but it seems to have the opposite effect. I am always that kid who takes a scolding and a beating without knowing what she did wrong. (..) I often have dreams about you beating me. When I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s hard to fall asleep again.”

“Teacher, oh teacher, we spend every day looking at the expression on your face. If you’re happy, then we’re happy too. If you’re angered, then we are scared.”

Besides sharing her confusion about why she is punished, her willingness to do her homework right, and her hopes to be a good pupil in her teacher’s eyes, the child also writes that the abuse over the years has deeply affected her: “My dreams have been crushed.”

The student’s writings were first accidentally discovered by the child’s own parents on August 6. They found the papers in a school book while cleaning up the desk.

Upset by what their daughter had written down, they photographed the pages and shared them with friends on WeChat. From there, it was soon shared from group to group and made its way to Weibo, where some threads on the matter received over 450,000 comments and 22,000 shares.

On August 10, the essay was also picked up by Chinese media (link in Chinese), who contacted the school to verify the story.

The parents of the student knew the teacher was disciplining their child inappropriately, and had already reported it to the school in June. Several Chinese media now write that relevant educational departments did look into the matter. They said it concerned a ‘substitute teacher,’ who has already resigned.

 

“15.4% of Chinese students suffered corporal punishment as a form of discipline at school.”

 

China has outlawed corporal punishment in schools in 1986. Corporal punishment as discipline goes against the Compulsory Education Law, Law on Protection of Minors, and the Teacher Law.2

Chinese teachers generally have various forms of disciplining, such as detention, time-out (outside or in the back of the classroom), confiscation of possessions, verbal reprimands, physical labor (cleaning the classroom), or exercise.3

But despite its illegality, corporal punishment of students also still remains relatively common. A widespread survey across ten provinces in China among elementary and junior secondary school students showed that 15.4% suffered corporal punishment as a form of discipline at school.4

With the spread of social media and smartphones with cameras, abuse by teachers is now often exposed by students. In 2016, Weibo netizens shared footage of a teacher in Shandong beating and humiliating students during a military training. In the video, the teacher can be seen pushing and kicking one of the students for being late to class.

 

“A teacher is never supposed to hit a child in the first place.”

 

Online reactions at the time also showed that Chinese traditions of teaching children discipline through corporal punishment run deep. Although many denounced the teacher, who was fired after the incident was exposed, there were also people who spoke out in his favor: “You say the teacher is cruel, and that’s not right. But what about the students coming late?”

A surveillance video showing an altercation between a teacher and student also went viral on Weibo this week. The video shows a female teacher yelling at a male student. When she slaps him in the face he immediately slaps her back in her face.

A video that shows a teacher slapping a student, and him slapping her back, went viral on Weibo this week.

The scene led to the question: ‘Can a student strike back when they are hit by a teacher?’ In a poll done by an educational organization’s Weibo account, over 87% of the participants said a student could hit a teacher back once they are slapped themselves, although there were also many commenters who said: “This is a misleading discussion; a teacher is never supposed to hit a child in the first place.”

 

“Up to this day, I sometimes still dream about my teacher hitting me.”

 

Both the young child’s essay and the classroom video have stirred discussions on abuse in the classroom. “Up to this day, I sometimes still dream about my teacher hitting me,” one netizen writes: “When I wake up, I feel all worked up and angry. Coincidentally, I saw this essay of the primary school child today, and I wish I could just take the child in my arms and help them.”

Many people on Chinese social media are touched by the essay and angered about the issue. They find the school’s response unacceptable: “A ‘substitute teacher’ for four years?! That’s ridiculous!”

Although some comment that “these kinds of teachers are everywhere,” there are also many who say they are shocked: “How can a person like this be qualified to teach?”

Many people speak out against giving children corporal punishment: “It will mentally affect a child for the rest of their life.”

Some say the system is to blame, since it is difficult to qualify as a teacher and the pay is low. With a lack of proper teachers, many schools, therefore, take on ‘temporary workers’ or ‘substitute teachers’ to teach the children.

Due to the overwhelming media attention for the case, the school has now openly spoken out on August 12, offering their sincere apologies to the student for the abuse suffered at their institution. They guarantee that the child will have a different teacher after the summer vacation.

By Manya Koetse

1 According to various blogs, the young writer of the essay is a girl, although this is not confirmed by official media.
2 (Russo et al 2014: 24).
3 (Russeo et al 2014: 25).
4 (Russo et al 2014, 25-26).

References and further reading

Russo, Charles J., Izak Oousthuizen, Charl C. Wolhuter. 2014. International Perspectives on Student Behavior: What We Can Learn. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

From Hong Kong Protests to ‘Bright Future’ – The Top 3 Most Popular Posts on Weibo This Week

These are the most-read posts on Weibo this week.

Manya Koetse

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The three most-read posts on Weibo over the past week – an overview by What’s on Weibo.

The protests in Hong Kong have been dominating Chinese social media throughout August, and the past week has been no different. Two out of three most-read posts on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms, were about Hong Kong this week.

A wrap-up:

 

#1 Hundreds of Hong Kong Taxi’s Flying Chinese National Flag

Image shared by CCTV on their Weibo account.

While Hong Kong is gearing up for the 13th consecutive weekend of mass anti-government demonstrations, there are no signs of the protests fizzling out any time soon.

The Hong Kong protests started in March and April of this year against an extradition bill that would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people wanted in mainland China, and have intensified over the past weeks.

Although authorities in mainland China initially remained quiet on the topic, the Hong Kong demonstrations have been dominating the trending streams on China’s popular social media platforms for all of August.

Through videos, online posters, and slogans, Chinese state media have propagated a clear narrative on the situation in Hong Kong; namely that a group of “separatists” or “bandits” are to blame for the riots that aim to “damage public security” in Hong Kong and are “dividing the nation.”

News outlets such as People’s Daily and CCTV are sharing many stories that emphasize the One China principle and praise the Hong Kong police force. Those voices in Hong Kong speaking up for the police force and condemning protesters using violence have been amplified in Chinese media.

One story that became the number one trending post on Weibo this week is that of dozens of Hong Kong taxi drivers hanging the Chinese national flag from their cars (video).

On August 23, the taxi drivers reportedly formed a rally against violence at Tsim Sha Tsui, waving the flags and putting up signs saying “I love HK, I love China.”

The hashtag “500 Hong Kong Taxi’s Hanging up Chinese National Flags” (#香港500辆的士挂上国旗#), hosted by CCTV, attracted over 700 million views on Weibo. The CCTV post reporting on the event received over half a million likes and 47000 shares.

The commenters mostly praise the Hong Kong taxi drivers for “standing up for Hong Kong” and flying the Chinese flag.

In English-language media, it has mostly been Chinese state media reporting on the rally. Xinhua, Women of China, ECNS, and Global Times all reported on the August 23 peace rally.

CNN only shortly reported how “a number of taxis have been spotted driving around the city displaying Chinese flags — something that has not happened on this scale during previous protests” (link).

 

#2 ‘Bright Future’ Title Song for Upcoming Movie ‘The Moon Remembers All’

Over 266.000 Weibo users have been sharing a post by Chinese actor Li Xian (李现) on the title track for the new Chinese movie The Moon Remembers All or River on a Spring Night (Chinese title: 春江花月夜).

The upcoming movie itself is a very popular topic on Weibo recently, attracting 430 million views on its hashtag page alone. The movie just finished shooting and will be released in 2020.

The song titled “Bright Future” (前程似锦) is sung by Taiwanese singer Chen Linong (陈立农) and Li Xian, who are both the leading actors in the fantasy movie. The song was released on August 29.

The Moon Remembers All is produced by Edko Films and directed by Song Haolin (宋灏霖), also known for Mr. Zhu’s Summer (2017) and Fatal Love (2016).

 

#3 Interview with Hong Kong Pro-Beijing LegCo Member Junius Ho

The third most popular Weibo post of this week comes from Xia Kedao (侠客岛), a popular commentator account for the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, and concerns a live broadcasted interview with Hong Kong lawmaker and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Junius Kwan-yiu Ho.

Junius Ho (何君尧) is known as being ‘pro-Beijing’ and stirred controversy earlier this summer when a viral video showed him shaking hands with men wearing white T-shirts who allegedly were linked to the mob attacking people at the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21.

Xia Kedao describes Junius Ho as a “straightforward” politician who “speaks out for justice” and denounces “reactionaries.”

In the August 28 interview, that was live-streamed on Sina Weibo and later also written up, the Hong Kong legislator discussed the background of the protests.

Ho argues that the people with “ulterior motives” used the extradition bill for their own power struggle, distorting and exaggerating the facts behind the regulation.

The politician also partly links the protests to a “weak national consciousness” in Hong Kong due to its education curriculum and says that there have not been enough legal consequences for those participating in illegal activities and riots.

Thousands of commenters on Weibo write that they appreciate Ho for speaking out against the “pro-independence riot youth” and praise him for his “deep understanding” of mainland China.

By now, Junius Ho, who is also active on Weibo with his own account, has gathered more than half a million fans on his page.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Insight

Exchange Student to Be Deported from China for Harassing Young Woman at University

An exchange student studying at the Hebei University of Engineering has been expelled and will soon be deported after harassing a female student.

Manya Koetse

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An exchange student from Pakistan who was studying at the Hebei University of Engineering (河北工程大学) has been expelled and detained after harassing a female student at the same university.

The incident, that is attracting much attention on Chinese social media this week, adds to the wave of recent controversies over the behavior and status of overseas students in mainland China.

On July 31, a female student at the Hebei university filed a police report against a Pakistani student who allegedly harassed her and attempted to forcefully kiss her and touch her breasts.

Screenshots of a supposed WeChat conversation between the exchange student and the female student, in which the man apologizes and claims the interaction is a “requirement for friendship,” are being shared on social media.

According to various reports, the police initially tried to mediate between the two students, which the female student refused.

Together with the school principal, the police then further investigated the case and found ample evidence of harassment after examining the university’s surveillance system.

On August 1st, the Hebei University of Engineering announced that they had expelled the student and that he will be deported from China. The announcement received more than 14,000 reactions and 150,000 ‘likes’ on Weibo.

The student is now detained at the local Public Security Bureau and is awaiting his deportation.

A photo of two officers together with a man in front of the detention center in Handan is circulating on social media in relation to this incident.

At time of writing, the hashtag page “Exchange Student to Be Deported after Molesting Female Student” (#留学生猥亵女学生将被遣送出境#) has been viewed over 310 million times on Weibo.

Among thousands of reactions, there are many who praise the Hebei university for supporting the female student after she reported the exchange student to the police.

“This may not be the best university, but at least they stand behind their students!”, some say, with others calling the university “awesome.”

Many say that the Hebei university should serve as an example for other Chinese universities to follow, with Shandong University being specifically mentioned by Weibo users.

Shandong University was widely criticized earlier this summer for its “buddy exchange program,” which was accused of being a way to arrange Chinese “girlfriends” for male foreign students.

Another incident that is mentioned in relation to this trending story is that of an exchange student who displayed aggressive behavior towards a Chinese police officer in July of this year. The student was not punished for his actions, which sparked anger on Chinese social media.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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