On the morning of November 28, at around 9, Ms. Li of the Chaoyang Huayuan brought her children out of their apartment compound, and set up a shocking scene: In front of the gate of the compound, on the sidewalk, a pair of twin girls with their trousers pulled up over their knees, kneeling with their bare skin on the ice-cold pavement. Their heads hung low, tears slowly falling onto the ground ... about 10 meters in front of the girls their mother is simultaneously picking out vegetables for tonight's dinner and yelling at her daughters.
More and more passersby draw near. Upon seeing this sight, all are very surprised. The two girls are kneeling along the rough sidewalk, constantly shivering, shifting their body weight from one knee to the other. In front of the crowd that is gathering, asking what is going on, and commenting, the two girls' heads hang even lower.
"What is going on here? Get up!" A few of the older men and women passing by put out their hands to pull the two girls to their feet, but the two don't move a muscle.
"You guys stand up first, whatever you did we can work out with your mother," says one woman in her 60s. When she reaches out to help one of the girls to her feet, the latter turns her head to look at her sister, and then raises her head to sneak a glance at her mother in the vegetable shop. Seeing no reaction from her mother, she immediately drops her head again. The good-hearted women walks over to the girls' mother, muttering, and the mother is still choosing vegetables and scolding the girls.
"You can't do this on such a cold day!" The crowd is getting bigger and bigger, and everybody is voicing their disapproval of the children's mother. Seeing that a crowd of criticizers is forming, the mother finally offers one line: "You still haven't gotten up, what are you doing still kneeling on the ground?" The two girls finally pick themselves up off the ground, perhaps they have been in the position a long time, and their legs won't fully straighten out. One nearly falls back down on the ground, and an onlooker gives her a hand. "They were kneeling like that for around 15 minutes," estimates one of the onlookers.
The kind woman who put out her hand to help the girl said, "Even if the girls have done something wrong, they're still kids. This mother must have been really angry, but it's still not reason enough to punish them like this."
One older man was ready to call 110 [emergency hotline]. "It's really inexcusable to make the girls do this, how can you make them kneel down on the street? It's going to cause a lot of damage to their self-esteem."
When the reporter questioned the girls' mother, she simply said, "They did their homework sloppily, made me so angry, they need reprimanding." When the reporter asked the mother if this form of punishment was inappropriate, she didn't reply. The reporter asked the children what they thought, but they didn't dare say anything. A short time after, with the crowd not dispersing, the mother dragged the two girls away.
A shopkeeper in a nearby shop told the reporter that the mother disliked it when her children did not complete their homework satisfactorily. The clerk in the next shop said, "I guess their mom's business isn't going well, which is putting her in a bad mood. So she takes it out on the kids. When she forced the girls to kneel on the ground, some people spoke up, but she didn't pay any attention to them."
There's a snack vendor who sets up nearby and knows the twins well. She said that the girls' family does business. About a year ago, the mother rented a small unit in the Chaoyang Huayuan from which to run her business. The vendor said she heard that the girls' father isn't around; he works in Hangzhou. "I think that the girls' mother isn't very well educated, she's always hitting the girls, or punishing them by forcing them to kneel down in the shop, and sometimes even hits their hands with chopsticks. But this is the first time she's made them kneel on the street."
The two punished sisters are usually called "Shuang Shuang" (twins). The sisters are 10 years old and in the fifth grade at the primary school attached to Yulin Middle School. "Every day at 5 or 6 p.m. when we pass by we see the two girls out in front of the vegetable shop sitting at a little table or sitting on stools doing their homework, so it seems like they're very well-behaved."
The Expert's View
"Don't take out your anger on your children"
"This is totally the wrong way to treat children. It's completely out of line!" After hearing the story, Paotong Shu Elementary School principal Chen Qun was very surprised. "The parent might be unaware of the fact that by punishing her children in public like this, having them kneel down on the street, this can really damage their self-esteem, perhaps for their whole lives. I think that this mother's intentions are good, she wants to correct her children's behavior, but this form of punishment is inappropriate."
Chun Qun said, "Nowadays many parents, especially those who aren't very educated/cultured, believe too much in harsh punishment, so it's very common for them to yell at their kids. And quite a few also take out their stress from life or work on the people closest to them, and that's usually the kids. In terms of their children's upbringing, this is the easiest mistake for parents to make."
Chengdu Commercial Daily (our translation)