The kid that begged has a message for all parents

Wan Lixin
It is no longer easy to see beggars on the street today.
Wan Lixin

It is no longer easy to see beggars on the street today.

No wonder that, at 5am on December 5, when a boy was spotted begging for charities, with a bowl before him and a schoolbag besides him, the sight did not go unnoticed. The police, acting on a tip, rushed to the scene, took the boy to the police station and was somewhat surprised to learn that the 10-year-old boy was planted there by his father.

The father was not drunk. He was merely disappointed. Being perfunctory with his homework, the boy was a favored object of teacher complaints.

Another complaint that day was the last straw, and convinced the aggrieved father of the need for stronger medicine. In the small hours of that dramatic day, the father, who was about to work on the night shift, woke up the boy, took him along and dropped him off at the railway station, traditionally favored as a place to exact charities.

We do not know if the boy had any luck that day — one thing is sure: This classic form of panhandling is passé, as money today could be more plentifully raised via such online crowdfunding app as Shuidichou, which is plying a thriving business these days.

The police reminded that parents should pay attention to the way they discipline their kids. Punish them by making them begging was injurious to their dignity and, in a cold day like that, children might suffer cold, to say nothing of disrupting the public order.

Online comments were more mixed. “To say nothing of dignity — what if the boy ends up being kidnapped?”

Another comment: Would the father be licked by the mother? To think that the mother woke to find the son gone!

Parental responses

Parental responses were predictably more nuanced, with one observing: As a father of a nine-year-old, I am perfectly sympathetic to the father’s anxiety.

According to a new report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, it costs a family about 800,000 yuan (US$113,665) to raise a child from birth to graduation from middle school in Shanghai (“New report grades state of education in Shanghai,” December 10).

This is a highly risky investment.

A father, while his kid was doing homework, reportedly thumping his fist on the table and suffered fractures.

A mother incurred angina while supervising her kid’s homework.

There is much more to say about the correct way to discipline children — but that never goes very far in the age of correctness. In late November, the Ministry of Education published drafted guidelines asserting teacher right to discipline their students, to the extent of making the students stand before a wall for specific period of time to help them reflect on their mistakes.

Renowned scholar Samuel Johnson used to approve of enforcing instruction by means of the rod. “I would rather have the rod to be the general terror to all, to make them learn …”

So disciplining students used to be simple and effective, not just in China.

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