In the 1950s, a movie with James Dean made headway and controversy in the United States. It was supposed to be about a group of kids from good families on the wrong side of the law and it reflected the changing times in society: from America's conservatism to its liberal values. The motion picture was called "Rebel Without a Cause."
A decade prior America had come out of World War II and things began to change in the quality of life stateside. There was more prosperity and the American Dream was flourishing.
Recently in China a TV series titled "The Bad Kids" has come out, hitting a chord with audiences. I essentially don't agree with the title, as we all go through rough patches and rebelliousness as children. However, the TV show has stirred up some controversy about the three children who witness a murder. When we reflect on the changing issues and growth in prosperity in Chinese society, we can understand that social issues will start to erupt and affect the core value system inside the country.
The point to consider is, when do we accept things like murder, drugs or any form of criminal violence as normal in everyday life? We shouldn't! China should continue to be safe and shouldn't sacrifice its values for what's happening. But it needs to educate the populace about it, because these are the realities of life.
What China presently struggles with is how to manage this newfound wealth and not give kids too much too soon. An interesting fact is that what took most developed countries to do in 50 years, China has rapidly done in 20.
We have heard of a boy who violently hits his teacher and later the teacher dies or of a girl who commits matricide, killing her lawyer mother. These are actual cases by the way. It shouldn't be a part of everyday life; however, it is happening more and more. And what can be done?
Tackle the problem head on, especially when dealing with the troubled youth. Hiding the issue doesn't fix the problem. Because when one incident of violence manifests itself, a dozen more will easily proliferate.
There is no shame for a population admitting it has to fix its social issues. There is shame in avoiding something that sooner rather than later will violently grow! And there is no shame in presenting a TV show to not only entertain, but to make people aware of what is happening in contemporary Chinese life.
(The author is originally from New York City working as a teacher at the Shenzhen Guangming Foreign Languages School.)