December 22, 2009

Boy Froze to Death Outside His Dorm

School teacher said: He was lying there, comfortably and in peace

Student dorm (and the gutter) at Wujing Middle School
Jixing Zhang

Newsreport 1

14-year-old Boy Froze to Death Outside His Dorm

Original Source: Luzhong (Middle Shandong) Morning News

Reporter: Yinfeng Sun (孙银峰)

A few days ago, one seventh grade student from Linqu County in Weifang, Shandong (潍坊临朐县) "unexpectedly" died in the ditch located behind his dorm. His school insisted that the death was an accident. However, according to insiders, the child was in reality sent to stand outside in subzero temperature as punishment. The teacher later forgot about him. In the end, the student passed away due to hypothermia.

Several newspapers in Shandong province reported on commotion in Linqu County, resulting from the student Jixin Zhang's (张继鑫) sudden death. Jixin's Bewildered parents are in a state of shock: their son has always been an honest and obedient child; furthermore he was in good health. How did he end up dying in a ditch then? An informed source told the reporter that father Benyong Zhang (张本勇) received a phone call on December 18 from Wujing Middle School (五井初中), asking him to come. Mr. Zhang instinctively knew something was awry when they arrived at the school and his son was nowhere to be seen. After they were informed of their loss, Mr. Zhang almost fainted, while his wife broke down in tears.

School officials from Wujing Middle School told the media, "When we found the child, he was lying on his back inside the ditch, head facing east and feet facing west...He died quite comfortably." After assessing the scene, the school ruled it to be an accident.

Mr Zhang did not believe the official explanation that Jixin "passed away very peacefully." After some inquiry, Jixin classmates divulged shocking information.

On the night of December 17, an eighth grade student ordered Jixin to buy a few things for him. As Jixin was leaving school, one teacher on duty caught him. Because this was a breach of school code of conduct, the teacher punched Jixin several times and ordered him to stand outside of the dorm. The same night, Jixin bid this world good bye in the -10oC temperature.


Newsreport 2 (This version has been deleted, which implies that it was untrue and has been called out on the fact)

Out Buying Things for Dormmate, 14-year-old Boy Died in Gutter

Original Source: Weifang Nightly News

There is a separate but less popular news report telling a different story--this is the version that appeared on government mouthpiece Xinhuanet. Key points have been summarized below:
  • Jixin Zhang was a very obedient and honest child.
  • Jixin was bullied by an upperclassman. According to a dormmate, the older student who live in the same room asked Jixin to buy him instant noodles. Jixin had to go to the store twice because the first time, the older student did not feel full.
  • Dormmates suggested looking for Jixin since he did not return after going out the second time. But the older student stopped them: "No need. He is probably being punished by the teachers on duty."
  • When Jixin died, he was clutching two packs of instant noodles to his chest.
  • The teachers patrolling that night denied imbibing alcohol
  • Video footage shows Jixin climbing the campus wall at 8:21PM on December 17th.
  • Around 9:20 two teachers patrolled the school roads and buildings but did not notice anything out of order.
  • The gutter was 90 cm deep and 50 cm wide. It hid the body well.
  • Police said the death appeared "accidental"
  • School expressed their willingness to accept responsibilities pending results of police investigation.

Differences in the articles beg the question "how can the reports be so different as if they are talking about two separate incidents?"
  • The claim "passed away very peacefully" was previously captured on TV but was not mentioned at all in the second article. Instead, in the Xinhuanet version, the school was appropriately empathic.
  • Based on pictures of the dorm, it appears that the school conditions are primitive. Indeed, how common is it for a middle school in a small town/village, where the teachers cannot even speak mandarin perfectly, to install security cameras?
  • A newscast mentioned that none of the teachers on duty could be reached by phone. Yet, they were very cooperative in the second article.
  • The second article, however, sounds more objective and less "inflammatory" than the first.

帮高年级舍友买东西 14岁男生死在校内排水沟 (link alive at 1PM, deleted around 9PM the same day)

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