Mother Sews Son’s Lips Shut for Stealing Snack Money

May 16, 2006 Updated: September 15, 2015

TAIPEI – The mother of a ten-year-old boy from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, sewed her son’s lips together because he stole four yuan (about U.S. 50 cents) to buy snacks.

According to Dalian City’s Peninsula Morning Post, the boy, Yueyue (alias), said that on the morning of May 2, his mother discovered that the four yuan she had left on top of the TV set was missing. When she questioned Yueyue, he admitted that he had taken it to buy snacks the day before.

Yueyue said, “At the time, mom was very upset. She scolded me harshly and told me to lie down on the heatable brick bed.”

According to Yueyue, he had no idea that his mother would sew his lips shut. He claimed to have felt extreme pain when the needle first went though the right corner of his mouth, but was unable to feel anything else afterwards. Yueyue said, “I don’t know how many stitches my mom sewed, but about ten minutes later, I couldn’t open my mouth.”

Yueyue was too frightened to call out for help. At the time, his father was working on a local fishing boat. Yueyue’s thirteen-year-old sister, Lianlian (alias), who witnessed her younger brother’s lips being sewn, cried and rushed out of their home to find their father.

Lianlian, however, was too worried about her brother and ran back home before getting help. Seeing her brother’s miserable and faint appearance, she hugged her brother hugged and they cried together.

When asked about details of her brother’s plight, Lianlian could not stop crying. According to her, it was not till three hours after Yueyue’s lips were sewn together that someone noticed and helped. Lianlian said, “When my brother went to the bathroom, our neighbor, Mr. Xiang, saw that his lips were sewn shut. Mr. Xiang immediately came to our home with his wife, Mrs. Qu. Mrs. Qu took my brother to the clinic, and Mr. Xiang called my dad at work.”

The clinic doctor said, “It was about 11:30 a.m. when the little boy came in. The blood outside his mouth had formed scabs. There were three stitches altogether, so the wound was actually not that serious. However, when I heard it was his mother who did it, I was shocked.” After the stitches were taken out and disinfected, the neighbor took Yueyue home.

Though Yueyue’s Dad, Mr. Lu, also disapproved of his son stealing money, he scolded his wife for what she had done.

According to Mr. Lu, it was not the first time Yueyue had stolen money. Not long ago he stole 100 yuan and spent it casually. He and his wife are both temporary workers, so it is not easy for them to earn money. Though his wife’s punishment was inappropriate, Mr. Lu felt it is still the duty of the parents to discipline their child, especially since Yueyue is stealing money at such a young age.

According to Yueyue’s mother, Cheng Xuehua, she had never received any formal education and gets very upset when her children disobey her. Now she regrets sewing up his son’s lips, and she says she would not do such a ridiculous thing again. Cheng Xuehua, however, did not think her behavioral was illegal. Cheng said, “I discipline my child for his own good. What’s the big deal with piercing him with a needle a few times?” She added, “I have never beaten my children before, but I was really mad this time.”

According to Lianlian and Yueyue, however, their parents often beat them. According to Lianlian, the wounds on her right wrist were left from her father beating her with a wooden stick, for not getting the dishes clean enough while washing them. She and her brother have to do housework every day and sometimes even cook dinner even before finishing their schoolwork.

Yueyue has written two letters to his parents in the past, saying, “Sometimes, I doubt if you are my birth parents. Why would you hit me when I didn’t do anything wrong? I really want to be a bird that can fly away to freedom.”

Attorney Liu Jiaming, from Huancheng Attorney’s Office in Liaoning Province, pointed out that while the child’s habit of stealing is certainly to be condemned, minors have limited capacity to understandand and should always be protected by their families and by the law.

Attorney Liu said that the police could detain the mother from five to ten days and fine her from 200 to 500 yuan, according to the “Public Security Management and Punishment Law.” If the child’s wound is determined to be more than a minor wound, then the mother could be charged with intentional injury, and could be sentenced for up to three years in prison, or be put under house arrest.