Middle school kidnapping plot busted in Jilin


City Evening News
November 2, 2009

Two teenage girls from rural Siping in Jilin Province conspired with a 19-year-old high school dropout who was working in a bar, to sell local middle school girls into prostitution.

Zhao and Dong, both fourteen years old, tricked five middle-school students into coming with them to the city of Gongzhuling, where they held them for 68 hours before they were discovered by police.

Zhao and Zou, the 19-year-old, hatched the unsuccessful moneymaking scheme online. “I wanted to take them off to be working girls. They’d sell their bodies and we’d make money,” Zou later confessed to police.

Here’s how things went down, according to a report in the City Evening News:

On October 15, Zhao called up Zou and arranged for him to rent a car to pick up a few girls from Gujiazi. She and Dong would meet him there. At 10 am on the 16th, Zou rented a Songhuajiang mini-van and arrived at the gate to Middle School #2 in the Liaohe rural administration district. When classes let out at 11, Zhao had five of her classmates get in the car by telling them that it was her birthday and she was taking them to lunch. She first said that they were going to eat in Lishu, but when they got there she said they would go on to the city of Gongzhuling. Zou lied to a friend, saying that his girlfriend was in town but had no place to stay. He borrowed a key and took them to his friend’s place. At 6 that evening, Zou went out to ask around but was unable to find any place to “take in” the girls, so he returned after buying some things to eat.

After supper on the 16th, one girl said that she wanted to go home, and the other girls began to agitate for hiring a cab home. The suspects placated them by saying they’d be sent home the following day. After the argument, Zhao dragged the girl who first suggested going home into the next room and beat her with a belt.

The article goes on to describe more beatings at the hands of Zhao and Dong over the next two days. Zou was apparently prepared to take the girls back home on the morning of the 17th after he was unable to sell them into prostitution.

Parents of the missing girls notified police on the afternoon of the 17th, and the girls were rescued at 7 am on the 19th after a 39-hour investigation.

The happy conclusion:

On the morning of the 19th, parents of the five kidnapped girls came to the police station bearing two banners. Practically every parent called out through tears, “If the police hadn’t rescued them in time, who knows what would have happened to our kids. At the critical moment, the people’s police came through!” As they were taking their children home, the parents tried to press a stack of cash on the officers in charge of the case, but the police politely declined.

A more banal threat to secondary education appeared in the sidebar of today’s paper: the eight “unwritten rules” that govern elementary and middle schools. The article, cribbed from a CCTV report, pairs a rule enacted to make education more fair or to reduce student stress with circumstances that actually exist in many parts of the country:

  1. No matriculation tests; parents compete for spots in schools
    Entrance exams may be prohibited, but there are lots of other ways to jockey for access to the best schools;
  2. School selection fees have disappeared in name only; parents make “voluntary” donations;
  3. Mathematics Olympiad stopped; “Hope Cup” takes its place
    Zhejiang’s Department of Education put a stop to the extracurricular, competition-focused math program in primary schools, but the drive to gain awards has kept supplemental math classes alive;
  4. No promotion-based rankings; schools still compete for top honors
    Schools aren’t supposed to compare advancement rates;
  5. “Key classes” prohibited; “innovative classes” keep cropping up
    According to Ministry of Education rules, compulsory grade levels are not supposed to be divided into ordinary classes and “experimental classes,” “accelerated classes,” “innovative classes,” and so forth. Many schools continue to divide up their student body, but they’re more circumspect about the terminology used;
  6. No make-up classes on holidays; Classes are still made-up, but in a separate location;
  7. Teachers may not conduct paid tutoring; Swap classes and teach
    Teachers tutor but aren’t often called out on it. They’re only catering to market demand;
  8. No full-time test prep classes; Entire classes change locations.
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