A recent school bullying incident in Shenzhen once again broke the hearts of many Chinese parents and shocked many netizens after a video released online showed students brutally beating a boy, even kicking him in the head, and slapping his face.
According to the police investigation, the victim surnamed Xie, a student of Aiyi School, was battered by six classmates and two students from other schools. One of the attackers filmed the entire incident and uploaded it onto the internet.
The police said the reason for fight is that two of the attackers, surnamed Yang and Yu, were suspended from school due to skipping classes and they suspected Xie is the one who reported them to their teacher. Some of the attackers even asked him for "protection fees" and threated him not to tell the school and his parents.
Shenzhen police have punished and educated the eight students but did not detain them due to China's law of protection for minors (most of the attackers are under 16 years old).
Meantime, the local educational department has also punished the school. The authorities decided to remove the school's two vice principals and the moral education director, and revoke the school's qualification for the evaluation of outstanding school for two years.
Just weeks ago, an article titled "Say No to School Bullying" was widely circulated online. A mother of a 10-year-old student at a Beijing Primary School wrote that her son had been bullied by his schoolmates.
The mother claimed her boy was humiliated by two other students in a toilet on November 24th. One bully allegedly blocked the toilet door while the other threw a garbage bin filled with used toilet paper and urine onto her son's head. The two boys laughed at her son and ran away after the incident, which reportedly lasted for less than a minute.
But the school denied the incident was "bullying" or "violence" after its investigation. A statement from the school said the three students "have a normal relationship, and they communicated with each other normally both inside and outside the classroom." The statement added that "they may occasionally give one another nicknames but do not have obvious conflicts."
The school statement sparked criticism from many internet users who believe the school did not attach importance to the bullying incident.
Last week education authorities in Beijing's Haidian district sent psychologists to the school, providing counseling to students, teachers and parents for half a month.
The Haidian district education department also vowed to improve the students' daily management rules and enact a team building scheme for the class where the bullying incident occurred.
School bullying has become a serious issue in China as juvenile delinquents are getting younger and younger, and crimes linked to cyber abuse are on the rise. A survey by China Youth and Children Research Center (CYCRC) last year showed that school violence had escalated, and was marked with cruelty and randomness.
Some experts suggested that the state legislature should lower the age of criminal liability, given some crimes committed by minors under 14 have already severely endangered and harmed society.
To better tackle the problem of school bullying in China, Premier Li Keqiang in June penned a letter on how to best address the issue of campus violence, following a string of such incidents.
The Chinese premier said "We should enhance laws and regulations to strengthen students' awareness of laws and rights, and resolutely put an end to behavior that disregards human dignity and lives."
The Ministry of Education released new guiding principles on the prevention of bullying and violence among students on November 11th, demanding stronger prevention and punishment of bullying.