School incidents highlight China's corporal punishment debate
Corporal punishment in schools is still very much alive in many parts of China, particularly in the south.
While many see corporal punishment as a breach of children’s rights, others argue that it is an effective disciplinary tool.
Adding to the debate, two independent incidents that took place in Jiangxi and Wenzhou earlier this week caught media attention.
Jiangxi: collective kneeling in a school playground
On the evening of January 23, an internet user in Yudu county of Jiangxi posted a picture of a class of students kneeling in a playground.
In the picture, several dozen middle school students were kneeling in front of a male teacher, with chins on their chests.
Vice Minister of the Yudu county Propaganda Department, Zhang Wenbin, confirmed the incident the same night. The teacher was suspended from his job, according to China's Southern Metropolis Daily on Thursday.
Many netizens criticised the teacher for the inappropriate form of punishment. “Can anyone tell me, what did these students do to deserve this?” commented a user.
Ironically, some students from the school reportedly wrote notes to plead for their teacher after he was suspended. One wrote that the teacher “is the pride of our hearts” while another wished him “Good luck!”.
The teacher posted a letter of apology on Weibo in which he admitted being “impatient” and asked for “a second chance” from his students and the public.
Wenzhou: police investigate the suspicious death of a student
In Yueqing, near Wenzhou, a high school student fell to his death 20 minutes after an argument with a teacher who suspected him of cheating in an examination, according to a People's Daily report on Thursday.
Later on the same day, a Weibo post that accused the teacher of “murdering the student by pushing him off the building” went viral.
Many of those who joined the discussion disagreed with the accusation, believing that the student committed suicide.
Some students from the high school also expressed disbelief at the accusation of murder.
“The teacher taught me politics for a year. He’s a good person and I’ve never seen him scold anyone,” said one.
Lin Tenglong, an official from the Yueqing Public Security Bureau, told reporters that the public security department is investigating the incident.