Experts urge parents to ease exam pressure on children
Psychological experts have warned parents not to put too much pressure on children and the society not to idolize top scorers, after personal tragedies startled the nation following the just closed national college entrance examinations, or gaokao.
After 9.4 million students across China participated in the rigorous tests last week that play a big role in deciding their future, reports about students attempting suicide made a splash on the Chinese social media.
According to police in Huainan, East China's Anhui Province, a female student attempted to kill herself but was stopped on Thursday night. She planned to jump into a river due to her bad performance in gaokao.
However, not everyone was as lucky as her. On Wednesday morning, the first day of gaokao, a 21-year-old man from Chaoyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province jumped off a tall building to his death. The student was reportedly "a repeat student" who had taken gaokao once before but chose to return to high school hoping to get a better result.
Yang Jin, a Beijing-based psychological expert, told the Global Times that "parents should know that gaokao is not the only way of progress for their children and they should try to comfort them instead of scolding them. Examples like Jack Ma Yun's life could be used to encourage the children."
Other psychological experts reached by Global Times said parents could take a number of steps to relieve the stress of their children, such as travelling with them, helping them formulate a career plan, developing their talents in arts or music, or transferring their attention by encouraging them to find an internship.
Such tragedies shake the nation almost every summer. Some years ago, a number of suicides prompted calls for a change in the country's gaokao system. In 2015, a high school in Hengshui, Hebei Province erected railings in its classroom buildings after a students committed suicide. School teachers claimed the railings have been added to all classroom buildings in an attempt to "protect students."
In China, gaokao is a test not just for students, but also a battle for the anxious parents. Many Chinese parents quit or suspend their jobs to rent apartments near the high school of their children to provide company and care.
A student from Chongqing Municipality surnamed Zhao told the Global Times that her mother forced her to cut her hair and hid all her beautiful clothes so that she could concentrate on her study. "What is more ridiculous is that parents of my friend even fooled him that his family went bankrupt and they had to rent a shabby apartment for him to prepare for the tests."
Parents' high expectations for children also created superstitious rituals. A student said that they would wear Nike clothes to attend gaokao because its logo symbolizes correction.
In 2016, hundreds of parents from Maotanchang High School in Anhui Province gathered around an old willow tree, known as the "God tree" locally, to pray for their children. They prayed for good luck and high scores, throwing incense sticks into a large fire pit. But unfortunately, sticks that failed to make their way into the pit rolled on the ground and burned the bottom of the tree.