My husband and I ran into an interesting difference of opinion the other night. He said the parents of a confessed murderer who escorted their son to turn himself into the police should have done more to protect their son.
My response: “What? They were bad parents because they made their son own up to killing somebody?” Seriously, I didn’t think there would even be much thought there. But the case is more complicated than that. As a brief background, the young art student’s car hit a young mother riding her bike, and then he stabbed her to death when she started writing down his license number. The act was witnessed and he injured more people on his escape.
As for his parents, it seems they escorted him to the police after investigation and witnesses had already led in his direction, making their act far less noble than it would seem. The family was reportedly affluent and with connections, though just how much is being debated all over the Internet. At least, it wasn’t enough to avoid the death penalty. Compensation offered the victim’s family was rejected.
But, whatever went on with his parents, my husband’s reaction brings up, to me, an aspect of a single-child society that isn’t usually addressed. That even the idea of protecting your child who has taken someone’s life could be supported shows a high level of protectiveness that some Chinese might call a sacrifice along the lines of spending all their life’s savings to guarantee a good future for their child (in this case, it seems the seemed affluence came from his parents spending what money they did have giving their son a comfortable life, i.e. the car).
Now, Chinese parents certainly don’t corner the market on this level of protectiveness and I’m sure there are plenty of parents in other countries who hide their child’s criminal behavior. But it's probably not an attitude that would be publicly voiced (as much as my husband's opinion is "public"!) And in fact, is the only-child sense of entitlement leading to the greater possibility of criminality? Many netizens believe this killer was justified and might have done the same themselves.
We all say we just want our kids to be happy, while all the while planning for them to become doctors, lawyers, presidents (goodness knows why for the latter two… J). We look at cases like this and shake our heads, but I won’t deny the horrible possibility hasn’t crossed my mind of any of my children doing, well, something I would be less than proud of. What would I do if it were a case like this? What I believe is the right thing, I hope. But I hope and pray none of my sons ever makes his parents have to have this debate for real!