Anger after video shows ‘grumpy’ head teacher brutally beating student for sleeping in class in China

Corporal punishment has been banned in China since 1986 but many schools continue the practice

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 25 May 2022 11:52
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<p>Viral video shows teacher grabbing a student by his hair and beating him for dozing off in class</p>

Viral video shows teacher grabbing a student by his hair and beating him for dozing off in class

A disturbing video of a student being brutally beaten by his “grumpy” teacher in China has sparked outrage across the country and reignited the debate on corporal punishment in Chinese schools.

On 10 May, a ninth-grade student — identified by his family name Liu — was filmed getting beaten by his teacher — identified as Ma — for dozing off in class in Zhaotong, Yunnan province in southwestern China.

In the video that’s gone viral on Chinese video-sharing platform Douyin, the teacher is seen grabbing the boy by his hair and shaking him awake. The teacher then pushes him onto the floor and starts kicking him.

Mr Ma can then be seen dragging Liu to the door and kicking him out of the class.

The school didn’t initially take any action against the teacher, who continued to take classes at the school for the next few days.

But after the video of the incident went viral, social media users began to criticise school authorities for not taking action, after which the local government announced on 22 May that he was transferred to a non-teaching job.

Chinese media reports said the boy’s parents did not know about the incident, and only came to know of it after the video went viral.

The student later opened up about what had happened, saying: “After seeing me dozing off, the teacher came over and hit me.”

“Our other teachers usually tell a sleeping student to stand up and listen to the lesson, but our headteacher was rather grumpy,” he was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.

Liu’s family is worried the incident might have scarred him psychologically and traumatised him. His 16-year-old elder brother told local media that Mr Ma used to slap his younger brother often “but not as hard as this time”.

“For more than 10 days after my brother was beaten, neither the school nor the local education department contacted me or other relatives,” he added.

Liu has since continued going to school.

“My brother did not dare to tell us what happened, and I was heartbroken after seeing the video,” said Liu’s elder brother, who was not identifed by his first name.

This is not the first time an incident of corporal punishment in classrooms in China has sparked debate.

Over the last few years, the country has witnessed an increase in the number of student deaths linked to harsh disciplinary actions in schools.

China had banned severe punishments — specifically those which could cause physical or mental trauma — for school children in March last year.

The new law, issued by China’s ministry of education, said punishments that humiliated students would be forbidden and also reinforced the ban on corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment has been banned in China since 1986, but many schools continue with the practice and local reports said parents also did not perceive this to be a serious matter.

Caning, verbal abuse and forcing students to stand or kneel on the floor for hours are among the practices banned in Chinese schools.

In September 2020, the Xinhua news agency reported that a 10-year-old girl in Sichuan had died after her teacher allegedly pulled on her ears and beat her head for doing two mathematics sums incorrectly.

In Jiangsu in China, a fifth-grade student died by suicide in June 2020 after her teacher allegedly slapped and humiliated her in front of the class.

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