A man jumped out of the fifth story window of a hospital where his son was staying, and fell to his death. His son was in the hospital because the school principal beat him for being disrespectful, according to Chinese state-sponsored media The Paper.
Xu committed suicide on March 13 at a hospital in Sichuan Province, China. His wife, Tan, believes he took his own life because he couldn’t take the criticism about their son’s behavior on social media.
Many social media comments accused Jay of being a “bear child,” a nickname for a spoiled and undisciplined child in China.
The primary school principal, Hu Gang, has been suspended from his position.
The 12-year-old boy, given the false name Jay, was near his home on the afternoon of March 7. When Hu, the school principal, walked by, he heard Jay shouting out a somewhat derogatory nickname for him.
Jay was shouting out “black child” over and over at Hu. “Black child” refers to a child born outside of China’s one-child policy.
The name was something that only close friends would call him, and anyone else saying it was considered disrespectful, Hu told The Paper. He also said that he was unaware that Jay was once a student at his school.
Hu confronted Jay immediately. Hu asked if Jay’s parents were home. Jay said they were not. Then right at that moment, Jay’s father, Xu, arrived at the house.
“I said to the kid’s dad, I’m going to give the kid a lesson in your place,” Hu told The Paper.
Hu then pinched and slapped Jay. Hu said that Xu did not attempt to stop him.
Jay’s mother, Tan, immediately took a video of his injuries when he arrived home and shared it on social media. “Look, this is how the Huzhu School principal beats kids,” Tan said in the video, according to The Paper. “My kid only said ‘black child,’ he doesn’t understand … a principal beating a child, that makes me really angry.”
Jay’s parents reported Hu to the police. They took Jay to the hospital and found he had soft tissue injury, but he was in stable condition. As of March 25, he was still in the hospital.
Hu regretted lashing out at Jay.
“It was indeed impetuous,” Hu told The Paper on March 25. “I really regret it … I should have let the boy’s father take care of it, then there wouldn’t have been this big thing.”
On March 8, Hu, along with his wife and the principal of Jay’s school, went to the hospital to visit Jay. They arrived early in the morning to apologize to Jay’s parents. Hu paid for Jay’s medical expenses.
An investigation into the incident began on March 8. It was decided on March 10 that Hu would be suspended from his position as principal. Jay began receiving psychological treatment on March 11.
Then, on the morning of March 13, Xu unexpectedly jumped to his death from the fifth floor window of the hospital. Local authorities said that Xu committed suicide. His wife, Tan, was said to be present when he jumped.
The Paper did not report any sentiment of mourning from Xu’s wife.
A long-time friend of Xu’s, named Zhao, said that he was an honest and hardworking man who didn’t gamble and rarely drank. “He put food on the table, but he was never able to say anything, as his wife often scolded him,” Zhao told The Paper.
Zhao also acted as the mediator between the family and Hu when they negotiated financial compensation.
Tan said that she suspects the reason for her husband’s suicide is the widespread criticism that the family received online, according to The Paper. She was unwilling to discuss other aspects of Xu’s life.
The Paper reported that several netizens said: “Bear children should be beaten,” “the child doesn’t understand, the parents even more—so don’t understand,” “if it was me, I’d hit him too.”
Others pointed out the principal’s error: “As an educator, is this how you educate children?”
“There were a lot of people who felt my kid was wrong, that we as parents didn’t educate him well, [Xu] felt he had been humiliated,” Tan told The Paper. She said that she asked Xu to not read the comments online, but he didn’t listen to her.
Tan’s sister-in-law said that Xu was a business man and his family lives in a small town—s0 everyone would gossip about them, according to The Paper. She said that he didn’t defend his own child, and that he wouldn’t be able to accept what others said about him.
A modern consequence of China’s now derelict one-child policy is “bear children.” Families in China were traditionally very large. Now, the opposite is the case. As a result, many families have four grandparents and two parents focusing all their attention onto one child.
This has made for highly spoiled children in some cases. These children have been colloquially referred to as “little emperors” or “bear children.”
In one instance, a grandmother allowed her grandson to play with the buttons of an elevator. There was also another woman in the elevator with them. She asked the grandmother to stop the child, but instead, the grandmother told her to mind her own business.
The woman decided to take revenge on the bear child without putting up a fight. She took out a delicious treat from her bag and ate it in front of the boy, taunting him and causing trouble for the grandmother.