Chinese boy, 9, who stole from grandma for mobile game is paying her back by collecting cardboard

Parents in Chongqing set their son to work gathering waste for recycling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 11:14pm

A couple in southwest China decided to teach their nine-year-old son a valuable lesson after he stole 2,000 yuan (US$290) from his grandmother – making him collect cardboard, newspapers and bottles for recycling to slowly pay it all back.

The boy’s parents, in Chongqing, told news website Knews on Sunday they discovered he had secretly used his grandmother’s phone to buy equipment for a mobile game two weeks ago, and they set him to work soon after – even during the week-long National Day holiday.

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There have been numerous media reports about young children using their parents’ mobile wallets without permission to spend money on games or buy gifts on live-streaming sites. While most parents would seek a refund from the game operator or website when this happens, in this case the boy’s parents decided there was an important lesson to be learned.

“My first reaction was that I was very angry and I felt like slapping him,” his mother, whose name was not given, told Knews.

“But we realised the next day that getting angry at him wouldn’t solve the problem. So we decided to come up with a practical form of punishment and let him experience some hard work to understand the value of money and see how difficult it is to make 2,000 yuan,” she said.

When he is not at school, their son now spends time collecting and sorting through rubbish to be recycled until he makes enough money to repay his debt.

Access to his beloved mobile games – and any other form of entertainment – has also been cut off until he has achieved his target.

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A fortnight on, his parents told Knews their son was becoming quite proficient at his temporary job, making appointments in the neighbourhood to collect items for recycling, gathering bottles, and folding and packing the cardboard and papers.

He said he had learned a lesson the hard way and would never steal money again – and he also hopes he can collect more every day, so that he can pay off his debt sooner.

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