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Parents urged to supervise children's TV-viewing habits

Updated: 2013-12-19 03:01
By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Parents urged to supervise children's TV-viewing habits

Two brothers from Mawang, Jiangsu province, who were burned in April while imitating a cartoon in which a wolf grills a sheep, are treated at a hospital in Beijing, where they were moved in May.[Provided to China Daily]

Parents must teach children right from wrong, and safe from unsafe, while youngsters are watching cartoons, experts said.

The comments followed a court verdict in Jiangsu province, in a case in which two boys suffered severe burns while mimicking a scenario from the popular cartoon series Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. The boys' hospital bills were more than 260,000 yuan ($42,800).

Donghai County People's Court in Lianyungang ruled on Wednesday that the legal guardians of the boy who set the fire must assume 60 percent of the costs. Creative Power Entertaining in Guangdong province, the producer of the cartoon, must pay 15 percent, and the boys' parents must pay the rest.

"Cartoon producers should rigorously review the scenes and plots that are inappropriate for minors in their products and give warnings like ‘don't imitate'," the verdict said. "There is a cause-and-effect relationship between the case and the violent scenarios in the cartoon."

The accident occurred on April 6, when three boys in Mawang village of Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, imitated a scene in the series. An 8-year-old boy tied two brothers, aged 5 and 8, to a tree and ignited hay on the ground.

The younger boy suffered burns on 80 percent of his body, and the elder one on 40 percent.

The brothers, surnamed Li, were released from the First Affiliated Hospital of the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing in October after months of treatment.

Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf features battles of wits between a herd of goats and several wolves. The animated show, introduced in 2005, aired on 50 channels nationwide.

In the TV series, Big Big Wolf is beaten nearly 10,000 times and the sheep are nearly cooked more than 800 times before they escape, some parents said online while expressing their concerns over the cartoon.

"Apart from violence, I'm afraid the practice of Big Big Wolf's wife, who is beating her husband all the time, may harm children's understanding of marriage," said Huang Hao, a Shanghai mother of a 5-year-old boy.

Parents should bear more responsibility for what their children watch on TV and provide guidance, as China doesn't have a rating system for films and cartoon series, experts said.

"Parents should watch the cartoons together with their children and tell them what's real and what's fictional," said Zeng Fanlin, a professor from the preschool and special-education school affiliated with East China Normal University.

Some kindergarten teachers said parents should have a better sense in selecting TV programs for children.

"We see obviously that some children, who prefer cartoons involving fights, show a stronger inclination to fool around with their buddies," said Li Xiaoyu, a teacher at Shanghai Xiehe Longbai Xijiao Preschool.

Li Xiaoyu said schools and families should educate children about fire and electricity safety and let children know they can be deadly.

Cases involving children wrongly imitating cartoon scenarios are not rare.

A 4-year-old boy jumped from his eighth-floor home in February 2010 in Wuhan, Hubei province, believing he could fly like cartoon figure Ultraman. In April, a 5-year-old girl jumped from a sixth-floor window with an umbrella in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, mimicking another cartoon scenario. Both children survived.

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