Social media contest invites controversy with violence against children theme
Nearly 40,000 people submit captions for online competition, but some say topic is inappropriate
The principle of "spare the rod and spoil the child" remains entrenched in mainland parents, if a cartoon competition on a social network is anything to go by.
Douban.com recently invited readers to submit tongue-in-cheek captions for a cartoon strip, which it called "Mum, beat me once more!" that features a mother slapping her daughter.
The contest attracted more than 1,000 responses in the first two days, many of which were reposted on Weibo, attracting a further 37,000 followers over the ensuing two weeks.
In the original script, the mother says: "Daughter, you've studied for a whole day. Let's go to play in a park," to which the child replies: "Mum, I want to study a bit longer." It ends with a slap from the mother, and the child holding her reddened cheek in silence.
"Violence in parenting is still entrenched in Chinese culture," said Dr Long Di, a family psychotherapist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"Many Chinese parents think they have the right to beat their children to make them behave or even to pressure them to do better in exams."
While many readers' captions followed the family theme, others transposed the confrontations to the office, with staff being beaten by their boss for failing to complete a task.
Ying Zhi, the editor of Douban.com was sure the competition would be popular with his audience, many of whom were fond of literature, films and sarcastic conversations.
Not everyone was amused by the satire. Huo Jia, 35, a popular writer and blogger on a child education, said the subject cut close to the bone. "The image is of an adult beating a child, and I don't understand why people think that's funny," she said. "As a mother, I think that violence has no place in parenting."
She said people of her generation, raised in the 1970s, had a different approach to parenting than their parents' generation of the 1950s.