Over 40 Missing in Last 3 Years From School for Deaf Children in China

April 30, 2007 Updated: April 30, 2007

Fifteen students from Linfen City Special Education School in Shanxi Province went missing during winter break this year, bringing the school's total for missing students to over 40 for the past three years. Investigations show that the missing students were tricked and taken to different areas of China, and then forced to join organized crime, participating in theft and robbery.

According to Beijing Youth Daily , by communicating with each other, the parents of the missing children have found that the cases were all similar: an acquaintance of the student would come visit the student at home and lure the student out with the excuse of finding him or her a job, or by simply using violence. As soon as the student left home, both the student and the acquaintance went missing.

From January 10 to March 7, 2007, 15 students from the same school went missing. The anxious parents have reported the cases to the local police department as a group and have appealed to the school's authorities, asking for help.

The Linfen City Special Education School is a full-time boarding school in charge of education for the blind and deaf children of Linfen City. It enforces the 9-Year Compulsory Education Program, and currently has 270 registered students from Linfen City and 17 of its surrounding regions and counties, along with 85 schoolteachers.

Since 2005, the number of students missing from this school has increased dramatically. According to incomplete statistics, more than 40 students have gone missing from the school in the past three years.

Deaf children have very limited contact with the outside world due to their disability, and therefore mature slowly both psychologically and mentally. Most of them didn't begin attending school until the age of 10. Some of the missing students were older, but their common sense abilities lagged far behind normal children of the same age.

According to the report, investigations show that most of the missing students were tricked and taken to places like Jiangsu Province, Anhui Province, Jiangxi Province, Guangzhou City, and Shenzhen City and forced to join organized crime and commit theft and robbery.

The report points out that, in order to find their children as soon as possible, some parents would rather pay large amounts through personal channels. It was reported that it usually costs 5,000 (about US $600) to 15000 yuan ($1,200) and up to 18,000 yuan ($2,000) to find a missing child through personal channels.

Not only did the children disappear suspiciously, but they also returned in unusual ways. Some times after the parents paid large amounts of money through an intermediate, they would be notified that their child would be returned in a few days. When they paid more, they would be told, “Pick up your child on such-and-such day at such-and-such place.”

According to the report, at present the police department of Linfen City has started an investigation and asked for the missing students' photos from their parents. But it is uncertain whether the cases will be filed.