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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10yo Boy Collapses During Forced Bike Ride

Ummmm... This report from the China Times is so amazingly shocking and so full of ridiculous quotes, I am going to post the whole thing:

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Police were called to rescue a 10-year-old boy, who collapsed by the roadside with exhaustion after his mother made him cycle part of the way on a 63-kilometer trip yesterday.

With not enough room on her 50cc scooter for her three children, the mother forced them to take turns on a bicycle during a journey from Nantou to Taichung.

The family was traveling from Taichung to visit relatives in Nantou. A one-way trip using their form of transportation took them six hours to complete. Their return trip was brought to police attention when a passerby saw a little boy sprawled out on the side of the street in exhaustion.

The woman claimed that she and her children — aged 12, 10 and seven — were unable to fit onto the small scooter. She found them a bike and made the siblings take turns riding it while she gave the other two a lift in the scooter.

When a passerby noticed a 10-year-old boy lying by the side of the street, they quickly took him to a nearby police station. The officer in charge described the boy as “soaked, tired and hungry,”noting that there were wounds on his elbows that possibly resulted from falling off the bike.

After treating the boy's wounds and feeding him instant noodles, the officer was told about the extent of his onerous journey. The family had already made the trek once, when they left home in Taichung for the children's grandmother's house in Nantou. It was on their return trip that they were nearly crippled with exhaustion.

In total, the family traveled 120 kilometers in 12 hours. Under questioning, the mother said she did not want to spend money on train tickets because she was afraid of motion sickness. When the police officer offered to give the family a lift home, the mother reportedly refused, put on her raincoat, and told her kids they had a long journey ahead.

Most of the insanity speaks for itself, but there is one issue that was only touched upon at the end, and that is how Taiwanese society deals with incidents of domestic abuse and neglect; especially in cases involving children. According to a recent report, of the 13,400 cases of child abuse reported last year, 87% involved one parent.

Although the number of reported cases of abuse and neglect has risen 35% since 2005, anyone with experience working around Taiwanese children and young people will immediately view the numbers with caution as the majority of cases are never reported.

Although the Child and Youth Welfare Law has been on the books and regularly amended since 1973, very few citizens who suspect cases of abuse, harm or neglect to a child actually file a report. Even government employees who are bound to report these cases, like the officer cited in the article, look the other way.

The reason many people in Taiwan do not take action in domestic issues has several causes that are both traditional and structural and these influences manifest themselves throughout Taiwanese society in many different forms. The first is a traditional Confucian view of relationships, which is constructed as a pyramid with elder males on the higher end and women at the lowest. Children and women have been viewed both traditionally and within the ideology of the ROC, as something "lesser" or "lacking" (I have another post on the way). Another traditional component may be the valuation of "harmony", which has been a major factor in social negotiation in traditional and contemporary society. Taiwanese often would rather restore harmony than incur the risks of disharmony. We often see these points negotiated at traffic accidents where it is more efficient and harmonious for the police and claimants to quickly negotiate a solution. Another related factor may be the Taiwanese recent experience with a strong, centralized state. In inserting oneself into other people's relationships one stands the risk of linking onto a wider network of relationships that may bring a whole new set of social and political liabilities.

In this case the officer restored harmony by allowing the woman to simply leave after reviving the child. Saves on paperwork!