Child abuse case tests boundaries of official credibility

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/29 22:33:39

Beijing RYB Education New World Kindergarten has been thrust into the media spotlight following allegations that some of its children were sexually molested, pierced by needles and fed unknown pills.

Police confirmed Tuesday that a teacher used needles to "tame" the children that didn't sleep, but accusations of pills and molestation were found to be rumors. No such abuse was detected in 113 hours of the recovered videotape.

The police notice immediately triggered a strong online reaction. The notice apparently couldn't dispel public suspicions and worries. Why was the footage damaged precisely at the same time as the incident was first disclosed? What motives would any parent have to spread such a damaging rumor about their child? Why did the rumormongers receive such a light punishment?

Others argued the authorities, as third parties, have no grounds for fabricating a conclusion and were placing their reputations at risk in protecting the kindergarten. They couldn't, and wouldn't dare, cheat the public.

The incident has already evolved into a sensational online event. Net users seem to have grown accustomed to querying official investigation results and any further information issued by the authorities will become a target for the public to vent their dissatisfaction.

Some are only willing to accept the conclusion that verifies the harsh allegations. They are extremely anxious about the security of their children.

Moreover, the notice didn't answer all the queries of the public. If a government has strong credibility, the public will not focus on the questionable points of the notice, but rather on the key conclusion of the investigation. Regrettably the credibility of most local governments hasn't reached the level the Internet expects. The official conclusion has failed to convince Internet users in nearly all public events.

In the Internet era, exchange of information is costly, with great uncertainty. The notice is like a one-way communication, with public dissatisfactions and queries left unaddressed.

In the RYB case, the government is stuck in a quagmire after intervening in the incident. The police now have two options. They can remain silent on the issue. The public uproar will gradually die down and parents' security anxieties will be addressed by the market. Alternatively, the police can provide more evidence to dispel public concern and hold news conferences to intensify communications with the public. New queries may arise during the process, which then need to be readdressed by the government.

Defusing public events is a systematic project in which the enhancement of government credibility is the fundamental solution.

If some parents have indeed cooked up the story and spread it around maliciously, they deserve heavier punishment. An online apology is too lenient for them and sets a negative example.



Posted in: OBSERVER

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