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Campus Violence, Bullies on the Rise

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Campus violence has been rising in Shanghai City, with blackmail, battles over lovers and escalating quarrels as the major causes, according to statistics from a local youth hotline.

The issue of school violence hit the headlines again this week after a video posted online showed one girl at a Shanghai school striking another girl's face, punching her in the stomach and kicking her.

According to the Shanghai Youth Service Hotline, campus violence accounts for 14 percent of recent youth cases.

While the majority of victims are schoolboys between 13 and 17 years old, some are much younger.

Mrs Lu's son just entered primary school this year. On a recent day after school he was dragged by several young boys into an alley, where they took his money, transportation card and cell phone.

"My son has refused to go to school ever since. He says every time he gets near the gate a voice asks him not to go. He always knocks his head into the wall, saying his brain is in a mess," Lu said.

Another parent surnamed Chen called the center to complain that his son, a junior school student, received facial injuries from his classmate. He is not the only victim in the class.

"Criticism or education no longer works for that boy. What can victims' parents do?" Chen asked.

Chen Xiaoya, an expert with the hotline, said such violence originates at home.

"Kids brought up in a family that often beats them as a form of education are prone to use violence on others," said Chen.

"For these families, we suggest educating the parents first, and teaching the parents how to educate kids in an effective and respectful way," added Chen.

Chen also said TV dramas and cartoons have a lot to do with the problem.

"Many students like youth TV dramas and Japanese animation, but they are full of violence," said Chen, adding Chinese programs are less funny, but focus more on education.

"China should do more to produce quality youth TV programs and books," Chen suggested.

The violent Shanghai schoolgirl who was videotaped earlier this week has been punished by her school, Nanhu Professional Schools, and has had to apologize to the victim. A special group has been set up in the school to help her.

In January, Zhan Shaoyun, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, proposed a questionnaire about campus violence. The result shows that of the approximately 900 students who responded, 67 percent say there is violence around them on campus, and 26 percent have personally faced it.

It also said 80 percent were terrified by the violence and 18 percent don't feel safe enough in school.

Seventy-eight percent think student fights happen most frequently in bars, Internet cafes and remote streets.

(China Daily October 30, 2009)

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