Mother’s violent meltdown over son’s homework, repeatedly slapping him, screaming, kicking furniture, symptomatic of ‘pressure to excel’ in China
Footage of a mother violently beating her son over homework has resonated online in China, highlighting the pressures placed on families by a rigid education system at a time of record youth unemployment.
The July 27 video showed the woman from Anhui province in eastern China in a rage and screaming at the boy, whose age was not revealed. She is seen standing over her son, who is seated at a desk, and repeatedly slaps him as he tries to ward off the blows.
“Your summary is not correct! What have you written?” the mother shouts angrily while hitting the boy, who could be heard whimpering.
“Revise it! What are you doing there? Can’t you behave properly?”
“Sit up straight, sit properly, sit up straight, sit properly!”
The boy then appears to either fall or slide off his seat while trying to avoid the force of the repeated blows.
After the boy moves out of her range and off camera, the mother begins slapping herself in the face while continuing to scream in rage.
She then begins lashing out at furniture and manages to knock over an electric fan standing nearby.
It’s unknown if there has been any official investigation into the video after it went viral. However, it has drawn strong condemnation on mainland social media.
“If you don’t know how to teach a child, go find a teacher. Don’t abuse him and hurt his self-esteem!” one person said.
The responses included a significant number of comments from parents with similar experiences.
Many said they shared the woman’s frustration and felt the high expectations placed on families by China’s competitive education system. Its university entrance examination, known as gaokao, is widely seen as the critical determiner of future success in life.
One parent commented: “If you don’t know how to teach a child, go to find a teacher. Don’t abuse and hurt his self-esteem!”
Another parent wrote: “I can truly understand how parents can lose control of their emotions when tutoring with homework, especially now that I have become the parent of a primary school student. Even though I often remind myself not to get anxious and stay calm, when I encounter certain conditions, I will still lose it.”
Another person said: “I don’t agree with this mother’s behaviour, but I understand her feeling helpless. She must have been desperate at this moment, both for her child and herself. She can’t understand why her child is performing so poorly, and neither can she come up with a solution to help him.
“Coupled with anxiety about the intense pressure to excel, it is easy for her emotions to spiral out of control.”
Parents in China are facing growing pressure and anxiety about their children’s future at a time when the national youth unemployment rate hit a record 21.3 per cent in June, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics .
Prospects for university graduates have become so dire that reports of advanced degree holders being forced to take jobs as delivery drivers or garbage collectors are increasingly common.
This has put further pressure on parents who feel they must push their children to study ever harder to secure a better future. Still, many parents have high expectations that do not consider an individual child’s academic strengths and weaknesses, which has led to a rise in family conflict.
Outbursts by parents over their children’s schoolwork have become so common there is even a term coined for this phenomenon, “Fear of Tutoring Syndrome”, which describes any situation where a parent loses control of their emotions and temper while helping with their child’s homework.
In 2021, a man in central China became so angry while tutoring his daughter that his jaw became dislocated.
In another case, a clip shared online in 2022 showed a father who was a graduate of China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, displaying the syndrome while tutoring his daughter at home.
The man’s frustration finally led to him experiencing an emotional breakdown and smashing a wall out of anger, exclaiming: “I can’t teach her any more!”