One week, three ghoulishly similar back-to-back attacks on Chinese
schoolchildren: first a knife-wielding former teacher wounded 15
children; then an unemployed 47-year-old man stabbed 28
children and killed 4
and finally a 45-year-old man beat 5 kindergartners with a hammer
before lighting himself on fire. These three attacks follow on two
similar incidents within the last month, spurring frantic debate within China about their causes. Why this rash of awful copycat
- Economic Factors, or Mental Illness to Blame? Evan Osnos
of the New Yorker gives the best explanation of the incidents so far.
He says the incidents have generated particular fear because of China's
one-child policy. He surveys local Chinese newspapers, citing one that
blames rising economic strain in China. (All three men appear to have
been unemployed.) Other publications assert it's simply mental illness
to blame. Yet Osnos says, "even if mental illness is the root cause
here rather than economic factors, mental illness is not getting enough
discussion either." He concludes that the attacks reflect, if nothing
else, "how disorienting Chinese life can be in 2010."
- Media Attention Driving Copycat Crimes? Austin Ramzy
of Time reports on a Chinese professor of sociology who says, "There's
definitely a factor of imitation in terms of the crime method...The
more crimes they commit in a short period of time, the more media
attention they will get, and attention is exactly what they want."
Ramzy also notes that earlier attacks had already compelled a greater
focus on school safety in China, but that "the recent spate of attacks
shows the difficulty in protecting schoolchildren."
- Deeper Social Problems? Sky Canaves
of the Wall Street Journal looks at debates within China about whether
the incidents reveal deeper social problems. Canaves finds an editorial
that criticizes the obsession with improving safety. "If society is
less troubled, we will be safer, and children will also be safer." The
writer also cites a Chinese poll revealing that many citizens believed
that if local governments focused on improving ordinary people's lives,
"no one would commit murder."
- Schools Vulnerable? Key
from China Hush reports on efforts to bolster security in primary
schools, showing equipment that teachers and guards could use to
disable aggressors: "In response to the recent frequent campus murders,
many schools have began the work of strengthening school security. On
April 29, many middle school, primary school and kindergartens in
Beijing are to equip with nearly 200 police steel forks, to be used
against the attackers." Visit the page for photos of the steel forks.
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