The intense pressure faced by many pupils was once again illustrated when two youngsters committed suicide and two runaways were found badly beaten on the same day in Zhengzhou, Henan province. On February 8, a day before term began, the Zhengzhou City Emergency Rescue Centre responded to a frantic call by a woman named Lu who discovered her 12-year-old son had hanged himself, the Legal Daily reported. The mother said she pushed her son into studying the violin during the holidays. The day of the accident, Xiaomiao failed to persuade her to give him a break from the violin once the new term began. At 3pm that day, she received a message on her pager from Xiaomiao saying 'Mummy, goodbye'. Later that afternoon, the same rescue squad responded to a call in the western suburbs of Zhengzhou, when an eight-year-old referred to as Xiaoliang committed suicide by throwing himself out a window. Apparently the boy was generally happy and lively, but became despondent as the new term approached. The day before school was to begin, Xiaoliang jumped out of a sixth-floor window. Then at about 4.30pm that day, the rescue centre admitted two 10-year-old runaways from Dalian, who had been robbed and beaten at Zhengzhou city railway station. One boy, referred to as Xiaoming, said he ran away with his Spring Festival gift money because he hated his stepmother. His friend Xiaolong said it was easy to slip away with his friend, because his separated parents did not pay any attention to him. 'If you don't spread manure and water a flower, and instead just leave it alone to grow naturally, can it possibly develop well?' the report quoted Xiaoming as saying. Although the central Government issued directives last year requesting that districts eliminate homework for primary school pupils, in practice the workload at many schools has increased. At some middle schools in Zhengzhou city's eastern region, primary pupils are reportedly assigned so much homework that many are studying until after midnight. One father said that after seeing his daughter up so late and back studying at 5am, he was transferring her out of the school.