Suffer the little children

A couple of evenings ago, I caught snippets of an episode on Channel News Asia program, “Get Real”, about child abuse in China – Behind Classroom Doors. It turns out that in April this year, there was a major news of a remote village in China, where twelve preschoolers were sexually violated by their teacher for more a year! To say I was shocked was an understatement, I was seriously horrified, especially when I learned that the youngest child was only four years old then. This is pedophilia, and the freaking monster should be jailed for life! But he is still in detention instead of being tried in court.

The program also featured other child victims, one who was beaten by his teacher which caused him to be blind in one eye, and a couple of others were secretly fed antibiotics by their school, which were meant for adults.  I was really disturbed by such abuses on the young children, and that their parents could get little justice for them because of loop holes in the law.

I wanted to find out more about child abuse cases in China, and googled online, and was very appalled by the various cases that were reported. (To think that those that went unreported could be even higher.) The latest incident that went viral on the web happened in October, of this toddler girl who was kicked and beaten by her step-mother because she wet herself. A neighbor staying above filmed the whole terrifying ordeal which I didn’t watch, but I was really shaken just reading the article and looking at the images. I broke down when I later read that the little girl cried for her mother to save her while being tortured. I don’t know what happened or where her real mother was, and unfortunately she wasn’t around to stop it. If this had happened to Buddy, I would literally skin the sicko alive even if I had to strike a bargain with the devil.

I don’t know if this woman is mentally disturbed or a psycho, or if she is really human, but a little research made me realize that many children are suffering the same or worse fate from either their parents or step-parents. I tried to find out what happened to this little girl, hoping that the bloody perpetrator would be  caught. There was not much info other than the Chinese netizens are trying to find out where this happened in order to rescue the victim, and the police are involved as well.

What I find unbelievable is that, in China, most of these parent perpetrators go unpunished, and social service is almost non-existent. According to this Chinese article on why the law can’t be relied on to tackle child abuses, written in Chinese, there is little or no consequences for the abusers because the laws are too vague and nothing specific on minor protection. In fact, such cases are largely considered as family affairs, and the saying “spare the rod and you spoil the child” is deeply ingrained in the culture. Somehow this justifies corporal punishment on kids. In fact, it’s not just in China but in many parts of Asia, even Singapore.

Unlike the developed countries, China does not have a system for child protection. In fact the above-mentioned article stated a survey showing that almost 40% of Chinese kids suffer abuses of different forms, of which 4% suffer from serious abuses. Judging from the news reports I read, the seriousness warrants hospitalization and sometimes even resulted in death. I know that child abuses occur in all countries, like there was a case reported in New York in August of an Indian couple charged with severely abused their 12 years old girl. Luckily she was rescued by child services, though New York Times criticized the government agency for being slow to act and not alert to the signs of an abused child. Yes, the wheel of justice turns rather slowly, but at least it turns. The couple faces a whole battery of charges including first, second and third degree assault, among others; the woman (who is the step-mom of the girl) bears the bulk of them and is facing 33 years in jail if convicted, while her husband faces seven years jail term. In China, a woman was charged and tried for severely abusing her step-daughter in 2012, which left the young girl disabled, and was only jailed for 5 years.

There are all these talks about children being our future, well, try telling that to the poor little victims. For a country that spent so much on defense and fueling ambitious space programs, the freaking Chinese government should pause and seriously consider the well being of its future generation. How about increasing the budget for education so that there is stringent vetting of teachers and inspection of schools, strengthening the law to punish the abusers, making sure the laws are enforced, and setting up a system to protect the minors? And stop touting the tired rhetoric of the Chinese culture being a few thousand years old, because it sure looks like it is still stuck in the dark ages.

The same goes for other Asian countries who don’t seem to find it a problem for parents to inflict violence on their kids, like using the cane. Earlier this year, Sweden made news when the court jailed a Malaysian couple for smacking and caning their children. Most Malaysians was shocked, not because of what happened to the children but their parents, and questioned the ban of caning in Sweden, all because they had grown up being beaten themselves. Like a woman recalled how her father tied her to a tree and beat her, while another had raw chilli forced into his mouth when he told a lie. It’s strange that they don’t realize violence begets violence, and very few, if any, question why the kid behaves the way he or she does. There is very little effort to try to understand the child, and instead it’s easier to resort to using corporal punishment when the child gets “out of line”. It was said that Einstein was a difficult child when he was young and he didn’t really do well in school. If he was born in Asia, he would have the shit beaten out of him, and probably we wouldn’t have the theory of relativity today.  Parents don’t realize that in the fit of anger, they don’t know when to stop. Most of all, where and how do we draw the line between punishment and abuse when it comes to corporal punishment?

In Singapore, the judicial system allows the use of caning as a form of punishment for crimes like vandalism and rape etc. And I presume parents think that since the state condones it, parents can do the same to their kids who are deemed to be disobedient. I tried to look for information on child abuse here, but could only find one reported case that happened in 2013, which is strange. I don’t believe that it hardly happens here. In this particular case, a nanny and her children had abused two brothers for years, before it was found out. I can understand that the poor boys didn’t dare speak up out of fear. But I am amazed their mother didn’t even notice the injuries inflicted on them.

Separately I saw a news headline that the number of suspected child abuse cases in Singapore had increased by 40% in 2012 compared to 2008, but I can’t find the full article. I am not sure if it is a case of sweeping the dirt under the carpet, but we should be open about what is going on around us, and people should be made aware that we have to stand up for the little ones. This is not about others’ family affairs, this concerns the physical and psychological well being of a child. I am supportive of the ban on caning of minors, like in Sweden.

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