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Targeted School Violence in China Posted by on May 13, 2010 in News

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the recent rash of kindergarten and elementary school attacks from copy-cat killers in China. Using mainly knives or blunt tools as weapons, five men and after today, one woman, violently and brutally assaulted children and teachers, killing seventeen and injuring some 100 people. Evoking memories and feelings of the devastating Columbine and WVG shootings in the US, the attacks have brought to light something extremely disturbing among Chinese society.

With new information coming out about the most recent attack in Shaanxi and leaks to the media, we are finding that many of the attackers have connections with the schools, administrations, students and teachers involved. While the the State-run News has worked hard to silent murmurs and whispers about these individuals, evidence is emerging that many of the “copy-cat” killers were disgruntled ex-employees or had affiliation with the location involved.

There is absolutely zero justification for these heinous acts of violence, especially amongst innocent youngsters. Still, the frequency of attacks is telling about the current state of Chinese society. While the Chinese News media was quick to first point towards mental illness as the cause of the first attack (it later was said that he snapped after a breakup), among the copy-cats, evidence started surfacing of relationship woes, loss of job and bullying from government officials, bosses and some of the administrators from the schools in question.

Again, there is no justification for this kind of behavior, and the suspects are likely to have some propensity for depression or mental illness (which aren’t really treated or accepted within Chinese society). But the underlying issue, which is finally now getting some recognition, is the lack of stress relief or a “pressure release valve” within Chinese society. If you read the bone stretching article (The Beautiful Bones) of a few days ago, you are aware of the lengths and pains Chinese people will go to just to survive and prosper in a nation so large.

For students, it’s the crushing pressure of exams and testing into the best schools that causes them to run away, assault teachers (or blackmail) and in some cases, even turn towards suicidal thoughts. For young adults and the business elite, it’s the weight of the economy, need for continued growth and profitability that causes families to collapse, engagements to be broken and workers getting blacklisted among industries. Then for others, it’s the huge income disparity, that has almost fragmented China into a modern day caste system.

Yet, there are no real avenues for release among Chinese culture, causing these disturbed attackers to turn their anger upon weak, helpless children. This predatory behavior has become cyclical, causing many experts both within and outside China to question what aspects of society are leading to these recent groupings of attacks. Are they expressing their dissatisfaction for society by committing such a terrible act that will draw media coverage? Maybe. Are they doing it because they feel helpless, angry and misguided? Possibly. Or is there some deeper issue that we need to address within a societal context?

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About the Author: Stephen

Writer and blogger for all things China related. Follow me on twitter: @seeitbelieveit -- My Background: Fluent Mandarin speaker with 3+ years working, living, studying and teaching throughout the mainland. Student of Kung Fu and avid photographer and documentarian.

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