China Stunned by Series of Murders of Schoolchildren: Seven Kids Die in Latest Meat Cleaver Attack
Exactly what is going on in China?? A rash of bloody, knife and meat cleaver murders of small school kids by adults have stunned China, a country where children are treasured. It seemingly matches the inexpicable killing sprees that peppered American history over the past few decades. The question is “why.” And the answer so far is: “no one knows” — but a lot of parents now fear.
Here’s CNN’s latest report on an attack in the northwest Shaanxi province in whicih a 6 foot tall man with a meat cleaver took the lives of 7 kids and two teachers, 11 children injured — and most assuredly traumatized for the rest of their lives. The child killer later returned home to kill himself:
Wednesday’s attack was, remarkably, the fifth such one on school students in the past two weeks. The attacks began on April 23, when eight children were killed in a primary school in Fujian province.
In the United States, Americans are used to hearing the phrase “copy cat killers” — where some students murdering teachers and other students inspires some others to do the same. But in China, as The Hindu notes, it is particularly shocking due to the way the culture cherishes kids for several reasons:
This unprecedented wave of violence targeting school children has shocked a country where children are almost revered. A popular phrase in Chinese refers to children as “little emperors”, denoting how fussed over they are in a land where family planning rules limit parents in most cities to having only one child.
The government has tightened security in schools, but the measures have done little to ease anxieties.
“No matter what measure is in place, the safety of my child cannot be guaranteed,” said Ma Qiuju, a worried parent, as she waited outside the gates of her son’s school. Two armed police officers stood by the entrance, usually only manned by an elderly, unarmed security guard. A patrol vehicle, with lights flashing, stood parked at the entrance.
The attacks have also stirred debate among sociologists, who say the incidents point to rising mental illness, still a social stigma often left untreated. An estimated 91 per cent of 173 million Chinese who suffer from mental problems never receive medical help, according to a study conducted in four Chinese provinces by the Lancet, a medical journal.
Other commentators say economic inequalities are another cause. In two of the attacks, the assailants are thought to have been recently laid-off workers who targeted schools in well-off neighbourhoods. A number of Chinese sociologists have also warned of a spurt of “venting incidents” spurred by inequality.
A report on the MSNBC blog notes that authorities to fear a copycat syndrome is at work here:
People are shocked and outraged by the incident, the fifth attack on school students since the end of March, and fear more assaults will continue to spread across the country….
And Chinese on the net, MSNBC reports, are weighing in on it:
“It’s too lenient to execute a killer like this! He should be stabbed to death just like what he did to the kids!” one angry Netizen wrote about Zheng’s execution on Sohu.com, a leading web portal in China.
Another writer expressed concerns for school security: “Why haven’t I heard this before? Schools used to need no security – they had open gates and were safe. Now I don’t want to send my children to school!”
Some blame the deteriorating social and wealth gap for the violence: “This is a disease of the society. Wealth gap is so huge and the disadvantaged are living in hell. If this problem is not tackled, we’ll see more attacks like this.”
A small portion of Netizens expressed concerns about the killers’ mental status: “Why was Zheng executed in such a short time? Shouldn’t he deserve a check-up by a psychiatrist? Mental patients don’t get treated and they can only go to jail.”
The public may never know the true motives behind all these attacks. A news blackout is common in China when matters are considered “threatening” or easy to “instigate social disorder…
UK’s The Telegraph reports that the latest killings may be a “turning point” for China:
In every case, the motive seems to have been some grievance against society, whether a failed marriage or an unjust seizure of property.
Traditionally, suicide has been the most dramatic form of attention-grabbing protest.
The ritual suicide of Qu Yuan, the archetypal virtuous minister from the Warring States period who killed himself to protest against corruption of his era, is celebrated each year in the Dragon Boat Festival.
Over the past few months, a number of people have set themselves on fire in reaction to having their homes were taken from them.
But the kindergarten murders show a new trend in which protesters are lashing out at others, picking the most vulnerable as their targets.
No country has ever gone through such a dramatic transformation, both socially and economically.
But while China has scaled dizzy heights, it is clear that it is also now experiencing loneliness, alienation and violence similar to that seen in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.
“China has changed. And as it has changed, lots of Chinese were unable to find where they fitted into the world,” says Teng Wuxiao, a professor of Social Development at Fudan University. “These people tend to get angry and attack each other for very simple reasons, sometimes for no reason at all. They have lost their basic respect for life. Before, life was simple and a murder was a very serious matter.
“Now, people talk about killing all the time, making it sound easy.”
Could a key part of the problem be the government’s attitude towards mental illness? The Vancouver Sun:
They also reflect the lack of government support for the mentally ill, or even recognition that mental illness exists. A report published at the end of April by a Beijing suicide prevention centre said that up to 17.5 per cent of China’s 1.3 billion people suffer from some form of mental disorder and that the country faces a major public health crisis.
Two weeks ago a farmer in Shandong province in southeastern China used a hammer to wound five kindergarten pupils before burning himself to death. The day before 29 kindergarten children in president Hu Jintao’s home district of Taizhou were wounded by an unemployed man wielding a pig-slaughtering knife.
On April 28 in the southern province of Guangdong a teacher on sick leave because of mental illness stabbed 18 students and their teacher.
And in the weeks before that there were three other similar incidents, including eight children stabbed to death at a primary school in Fujian province on China’s south coast.
There has always been that phrase about animals that “eat their young.” Now, in China, some crazed adults are killing them as a shocked country watches and wonders why.