Beijing, May 1 - A 14-year-old student who jumped to her death in China to protest her school's dress code has triggered an online debate among the netizens.
Ying Ying succumbed to her injuries April 14. She was a student of Shengli No. 1 Middle School in Dongying city of Shandong province. Her school had contacted her parents the night before to help persuade Ying to cut her hair in compliance with a dress code.
Ying's story has now prompted some netizens to complain about a lack of "life education" in Chinese schools -- programmes that build up childrens' resilience to face adversity and give them strength to get through situations that challenge them.
Sun Yunxiao, an expert on adolescent issues, said on his blog that respecting life is "the core of life education". "It is vital to help children cultivate the competency to face difficulties and frustrations," Sun wrote, Xinhua reported.
School principal Liu Zhichun said the dress code was intended to unify students and prevent unauthorized individuals from sneaking into the school.
The dress code was not aimed at any particular individual. Most of the students have complied with the dress code, adds vice principal Zhen Xi.
"I tried to persuade her to have a haircut but she refused. Suddenly, she jumped out of the window," her mother recalled. She blamed the school for her daughter's death.
One of the students said she was willing to cut her hair because she felt the dress code was created with good intentions. But most girls preferred to keep their hair long.
Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University, said the suicide reflects poor judgment on the part of some young people, adding that since they wrongly believe that their lives belong to them, they are free to give up their lives as they wish.
"We should teach them to value their lives. It is irresponsible to commit suicide," said Xia.
Life education, mainly lectures and slogans, currently exists as a mere formality in China, said Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.