The Ministry of Education urged schools across China on Thursday to make the utmost efforts to prevent bullying on campus after a 7-year-old girl in Henan province was bullied by three classmates who stuffed pieces of paper into her eyes.
Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry's department of basic education, said preventing school bullying has always been one of its priorities and the situation has improved in recent years.
However, occasional cases of school bullying still occur, and schools should strictly implement rules and regulations to prevent such incidents, he said.
Parents should also play their part in instructing their children not to bully others, and bullies who are children should receive proper guidance, he added.
The girl, a second-grade student at Dajian primary school, was held down by two boys while another boy stuffed small pieces of paper into her eyes on Sept 28, the Yuzhou bureau of education and sports said in a statement on Tuesday.
The girl visited several hospitals in Yuzhou and Beijing from Sept 30 to Oct 25. The parents of one of the boys and the school paid the hospital fees, it said.
The parents of the girl and the boys as well as the school reached a compensation agreement on Tuesday after the girl's eyes showed no signs of abnormality, the statement said. The boys were scolded but would not face any other punishment, it added.
The girl's mother told Henan Television earlier that doctors had removed dozens of pieces of paper from her daughter's eyes and the girl's eyesight had deteriorated significantly.
Another piece of paper had emerged from one of the girl's eyes on Wednesday, she told news website ThePaper.cn that day. It quoted her as saying her daughter was now scared of strangers and her eyes and temples felt unwell.
She said only the grandfather of one boy had apologized and the families of the other two boys had not shown up since the incident.
"Our only hope is that there will not be any side effects," she said.
The school's principal, surnamed Wang, was quoted by Henan TV as saying it was not clear how many pieces of paper were stuffed into the girl's eyes as there was no teacher present.
"The boys had no bad intentions since they are only 7 or 8 years old," the principal said. "It was just little kids fooling around."
The school's principal and another teacher have been ordered to write self-criticisms, a form of administrative punishment, for their inattentiveness.