A school in Hong Kong created a controversy by showing raw video footage of the Nanjing Massacre to young students. The incident that took place was at the Tuen Mun primary school, which left students, some as young as age six, distraught after watching brutal scenes of violence.
The video clip is of 5 minutes duration and was extracted from an RTHK documentary.
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They were shown Nanjing massacre footage that was extremely disturbing in nature to such a young audience. Incidentally, the Education Bureau had asked the regional school authorities to hold activities commemorating the event.
As the students witnessed footage of corpses and mass executions, they became visibly upset, yet the teacher did not stop the showing of the documentary.
The Nanjing Massacre, or the Rape of Nanjing, was the mass-scale random murder, wartime rape, looting, and arson committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against the residents of Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China, immediately after the Battle of Nanjing in the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Beginning on December 13, 1937, these Japanese war crimes lasted for six weeks, while the first three weeks were more intense. This was the largest mass-scale war crime in Nanjing since the 1864 Battle of Nanjing.
The death toll of the Nanjing Massacre is subject to a long-lasting debate, with extreme estimates putting it at 300,000.
The Hong Kong Education Bureau later expressed regret over the incident. It also said the management and teachers will act carefully in the future when such sensitive topics are covered.
The Bureau added that the feelings of the students should be considered and that teachers should use their professional judgment and provide proper guidance when teaching students about war.
“After reading the information provided by the Bureau, teachers can choose appropriate textbooks or select appropriate passages according to the age and mental development of the students,” the Bureau said in a statement.
Parents with children studying at the school told reporters that a counseling session had been arranged for those students who watched the documentary.
Promoting Chinese identity and love of the motherland
The incident also comes amid a wider push by authorities to foster a sense of Chinese identity and love of the motherland among students after Beijing’s imposition of the National Security Law last summer. Earlier this month, the Education Bureau issued a comprehensive new national education curriculum and guidelines for all local schools.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam says an RTHK program on the Nanjing Massacre that left some young school children in tears was in the public domain and education officials had a duty to tell teachers that it was available.
Lam said the government would not order teachers to use certain material and officials had only told them that the video was available for their lessons this year on the massacre.
Lam said it is not for education officials to tell schools what they should or should not show their students.
“We have very well-trained teachers, we have well-run schools with their own committee and so on. So it is not for the education officials to dictate, or to… provide very detailed guidelines on what to show when to show, and so on,” she said.