I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but didn’t come across the right opportunity until now. I received a notice overnight about a child caught pooping in one of the bronze bowls on Changsha’s Walking Street with help from his father. Down the center of Walking Street are several bronze statues depicting Changsha’s long history and culture (pre-Mao, even; yes, Changsha is actually very old). The statues are well-known in the city and are often picture hot-spots for locals and tourists.
One of the biggest complaints foreigners have about Chinese parents is the fact that their children do not wear diapers; they instead opt for squat pants which have a split down the middle so the child’s privates are on display for anyone to see. Parents then allow children to make full use of the squat pants by letting children “pop a squat” whenever and wherever they want. Children are often seen peeing and pooping everywhere, on the street, in train stations, in subways, in grocery stores, and even restaurants. But pooping in a statue meant to depict China’s cultural heritage just sinks to a new low. The worst part of this story is that apparently this happens all the time. This is just the first time it has been caught on camera.
Whenever a child is caught pooping in a place some people might deem inappropriate, there will always be flocks of foreigners and locals trying to pass the incident off as innocent. “It’s just a kid,” or “when you gotta go, you gotta go” are common dismissals to this issue and anyone saying otherwise is often decried as racist and culturally insensitive. But let me be very clear, it is never OK to let a child poop or pee in public. Here is why.
It is deemed unacceptable by every culture for adults to poop and pee in public. It is disgusting. It is unsanitary. It is unabashedly rude. Children should be held to the same standard, it is only the responsibility that shifts. Of course, a child may not be aware that it is socially unacceptable to pee and poop in public, but it’s parents are. It is never OK for a child to act in a socially inappropriate manner. It is the responsibility of the parents to curb a child’s actions until the child is old enough to do so for him/herself. Children should not talk in a movie theater, scream in a restaurant, or run through a grocery store knocking old ladies down, and it is up to the parent to make sure the child acts in accordance with these social norms. Peeing and pooping are the exact same. It is the responsibility of parents to make sure children learn when and where it is appropriate to relieve themselves, not to just let children go when and where they please because they don’t know any better. You, parents of the world, do know better and should be ashamed when you let your children defecate in public like animals.
Parents do not raise children, they raise adults. Those children peeing and pooping in public today will be the teenagers pooping on the metro, the adult men peeing on the Summer Palace, and will be the elderly women using glass elevators as toilets. When children are not taught respect for their environment, surroundings, and others, they will grow up into adults who do not care either. Time for a change, Chinese parents.