The issue of bullying was brought to the forefront of China's national debate this week, after a string of online videos and reports highlighted shockingly cruel behavior by children toward their peers.
On Sunday, a video was posted online showing a group of boys physically abusing a younger boy. The video shows the group kicking and striking the child, who has a rope tied around his body, as well as using cigarettes to burn him.
The boy who was the subject of the abuse featured in the video was identified as a first-grader at a school in Qingyuan county in Zhejiang province, while his attackers were identified as junior high school students, according to China's Legal Evening News. His four attackers have all appeared in court as a result of the incident, the paper added.
On Monday, another video was posted online, showing a group of adolescent girls slapping and kicking a classmate who was kneeling on the ground. According to a report from People.cn, the online presence of the state-run People's Daily newspaper, the girls, from Yongxin county in Jiangxi province, were instructed by local authorities to apologize to the victimized child.
Another bullying case came to light Tuesday, after a young girl was beaten and then forced to pose for photos topless with three other girls in Sichuan province, according to China's Sichuan Morning News. The three girls responsible for the bullying, who were all minors, were reportedly punished with “administrative detention.”
Furthermore, a report on Friday said that a 12-year-old boy in the southern city of Shenzhen suffered a ruptured spleen, after being beaten by other children because he refused to pay a “protection fee.”
The incidents incited a debate on Chinese social media about bullying, with some commenters on the popular social networking site Weibo calling for the country's child protection laws to be strengthened.
“There have been so many incidents like this recently, but we still haven’t taken any steps to stop them,” one Weibo user wrote, responding to the video of the first reported incident, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Another wrote: “I hope they reform the Child Protection Law so that it actually protects kids who have been harmed, rather than the little beasts who connive to carry out violence,” the paper added.