The stucco was crumbling off the walls. One day the handyman was poking at a joint with a bamboo stick and concrete was raining down. I went home and did a little internet research, learning that Henan Province is an active earthquake zone. To the left see a dry fountain, which any kid could fall into headfirst and suffer a severe injury.
The People's Republic of China has long evidenced a desire to control its population, beginning in the 1950s.
Their efforts to distribute contraceptive devices were successful but not as far-reaching as the government desired. The PRC's one-child policy, instituted in 1979
, has prevented about 250 million live births, significant even in a population of about 1.3 billion
and counting. Positive Results
The one-child policy may have curtailed expansionism, protected resources and contributed to the dramatic rise of the middle class, if not its very creation. The Negatives
Draconian measures have been taken to ensure that the largest ethnic group in China, the Hans, have no more than one child per couple (the policy does not apply to ethnic minorities or rural families). Though some monetary incentives have been offered, fines are common and rumors linger of forced abortions and sterilizations.
A reversal of the policy is anticipated because the smaller age cohorts will be unable to support China's expanding number of retirees.
But on a more personal level, observation indicates that China's one-child policy has spawned a nation of spoiled brats. Sting
hoped that "The Russians love their children too." And though the Chinese have been repeatedly stigmatized in books, TV and films as the twenty-first century's great threat, along with Muslim extremists, they do love their children--to excess.
It's worth noticing that everyone has good and bad days, and the vast majority of middle-class Chinese kids are great most of the time. But to paraphrase Longfellow
, when they're good, they're very very good, but when they're bad, they're rotten. Spoiled rotten, to be exact. The Best of Everything
Each Chinese baby from day one is doted on and spoiled by two attentive parents and four grandparents. Middle class Chinese kids have the best of everything: American designer clothes (or high-quality knock-offs). Their parents pay a fortune (in Chinese terms) to send their toddlers to private preschools and kindergartens (education in China isn't compulsory until age six--first grade). To be sure, two child families are common. In my classroom, a group of about twenty-five children, there are four students with siblings.
The toddlers hit, kick, punch and head-butt their teachers, who are not allowed to punish them, not even give them "time-outs." Butt slapping is common. Kids talk back to their teachers and argue with them. When they're naughty, the cheeky grins are a signal that their parents and grandparents think that their acting-out is cute.
They can do no wrong. A common name for a little Chinese girl means "Princess," and the girls often come to school in party clothes with tiaras perched in their elaborately dressed hair.
It's hard to predict where this will all lead, but there's at least a sizable cohort of Chinese growing up with a vast sense of entitlement, believing that the world owes them everything.
The adult children of the system are equally overindulged. Unlike American teens, who often get "hairnet" jobs or other retail employment in order to pay for clothes, movies and other treats, most middle class Chinese aren't employed at all until after college graduation. Many in their twenties still live in their parents' home, in a state of unnaturally prolonged childhood. They remain sexually, emotionally and socially immature. Because of the attention lavished upon them throughout their lives, many have an exaggerated sense of their accomplishments, abilities and importance.
What these bizarre creations of vast social engineering will do to their country when they get into power remains to be seen.