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A culture with a long way to go
Posted by: McQ on Monday, January 23, 2006

Sometimes a series of pictures can tell a lot about the culture they reflect. In this case the disturbing images of a child smoker, probably about 3 or 4, completely unsupervised and, as you'll note, very proficient in lighting up.

(Disclaimer: I'm assuming it's China given the writing, the appearence of the child and the surroundings. Unfortunately I can't read the characters surrounding the pictures so if my assumption is unfounded I'll leave it to the fine readers of this blog to set me straight).

UPDATE: Commenter Lurking Observer tells us:
Yes, it’s in Chinese.

The headline is also interesting:

"Several pictures of a three-year old child moves China."
Yes the headline is interesting and somewhat edifying, given the pictures.
 
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Yes, it’s in Chinese.

The headline is also interesting:

"Several pictures of a three-year old child moves China."
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
Yes, it’s in Chinese.
Ah, thanks LO.
"Several pictures of a three-year old child moves China."
Maybe not as far as initially thought. Still very disturbing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I’m glad Lurking Observer can read Chinese. We’ve all heard of those Chinese character tattoos that are supposed to mean "peace" or "harmony" but really mean "yak" or "idiot." The cynic in me would think it must say, "Look what stupid Americans think we regularly do to our children!"
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
How about this one. Charges were just dropped against a turkish author. They were braught by the "Turkish Nationalist Opponents of Free Expression" for insulting turkishness. What kind of social contract can we as a country engage in with them I wonder?
 
Written By: coaster1
URL: http://
Hmmmm...
I’m snarkily wondering what agency, exactly, should be discouraging 3-year old child from smoking. But I mean it in a good-natured, dig-in-the-ribs sort of teasing.

On a more serious note, however, these pictures may be more shocking in contemporary China these days, but a language-proficiency test I took a decade back (and probably written a decade before that) had one question that involved the statistics of 3- and 4-year olds smoking in China.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
I knew a kid who started smoking at 7. In Canada. Also, most of the world’s kiddie porn originates in Japan. Take that for what you will. And does it occur to anyone that if this sort of thing was considered normal in China, they wouldn’t consider it a big deal enough to put pictures up on the net?
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
Well, then again, consdier too that most there, don’t have net access, for whatever THAT’s worth.

Even accounting for cultural differences, however, this strikes me as out of the ordinary. While disturbing, I wonder if what we’re seeing is truely a cultural norm, an abbhoration, or even a set-up. Not like we’ve not seen the public moved by stuff that’s been set up or otherwise faked previously. (Shrug)

Also, I may be wrong, but I think the site has taken those pics down, now.





 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Also, I may be wrong, but I think the site has taken those pics down, now.
Nope, still there at 12:26am Eastern.
And does it occur to anyone that if this sort of thing was considered normal in China, they wouldn’t consider it a big deal enough to put pictures up on the net?
About as much is it occurs to me that this sort of thing could also be quite normal given the kid is sitting outside in full view doing this and is very proficient at it (meaning this isn’t the first time he’s done it nor does he seem to consider it to be out of the ordinary apparently).

A kid has access to cigarettes and matches at 3. I don’t know how "normal" it is, but are you suggesting he hasn’t been seen by his parents doing this and they just can’t seem to get the kid on the patch?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Snarky: Well, the little kid dressed up as a cherub on the cover of Van Halen’s 1984 looked pretty proficient at smoking, too. What does that say about the U.S.? Or maybe, LA? Or maybe just Van Halen?
Okay, I’ll try to be serious. Smoking is a big part of cultural life in China (and many other countries). One of the reasons tobacco companies don’t worry that much about sales to minors and adults in the U.S. is the bulk of their business was exported overseas, with plenty of help from Hollywood (whose actors love the dramatic effect of drifting smoke enough to convince overseas viewers that all Americans smoke like chimneys). The result is that if you help someone move a box in China, they give you a smoke. At weddings, the newlyweds hand out cigarette cartons as thank you gifts.
As recently as 10 years ago or so, 49% of the population were smokers. And that was like 1% of the women, and 95% of the guys. Yeah, my math doesn’t add up. It’s called "guesstimation"; sue me. Point is, smoking has gone down slightly as they’ve learned the joys of lung cancer and emphysema, but cigarettes are still a very basic form of social currency for males. So I don’t doubt this kid is smoking, and I don’t doubt his parents don’t think much about it.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://chieflymusing.com/
Nope, still there at 12:26am Eastern.
Yes, I see that this morning. When I tried, last night ... just when I posted...they wouldn’t come up. Might have been something on my end... my usual desktop was down with that driver trouble I spoke of last week... (Finally got a handle on that, BTW... turns out the IDE driver got mangled) That’s why I indicated I wasn’t sure.

Anyway, as to the rest, no. I’m merely speculating that this might have been set up by the photographer. We’ve been set up too often in the past not to at least consider it.
About as much is it occurs to me that this sort of thing could also be quite normal given the kid is sitting outside in full view
Well, that’s one thing that bothered me. Outside, yes... but in full view of... what, exactly? Or, more correctly, whom? All we see is the kid; nobody else.

Going on the asumption that the picture is accurate in it’s representaion, and that it’s not some sort of fluke or set up, I’d be interested in seeing the studies on cancer rates there. If it’s more the norm there than the rest of the world, we’d expect to see some serious health problems related in someone’s stats... if not the Chinese themselves, perhaps the WHO...? I’ll see if I can’t find anything of the sort today.

Also, it’d be nice if we could find someone who could actually read the captions and whatnot. My skills don’t quite reach so far.

I’m curious; How’d you happen to find this?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Well, that’s one thing that bothered me. Outside, yes... but in full view of... what, exactly? Or, more correctly, whom? All we see is the kid; nobody else.
If you look closely, it appears he’s sitting in an outside shop of some sort with the products for sale all around him. Fairly typical of some sort of market area. My guess is that’s how the photographer came upon him.
I’m curious; How’d you happen to find this?
Surfing. Don’t really remember the path which led me to the pictures.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Comparison point;
In my looking around, I find this report.
Interesting. It’s not mainland China, but Taiwan... and there may be some cultural differences here bewtween the island and the main land. Still... it may give us something.
The proportion of the number of underage smokers, aged 17 or younger, among all male and female smokers, was 2.9% for boys and 8.8% for girls, respectively (data not shown). In addition, the ratio of smoking prevalence between boys and girls in this age group was 3.6 to 1 (14.3%/4.0%), as compared to 10.9 to 1 (46.8%/4.3%) among adult age groups. The proportion of underage to adult smoking rates was three times higher for girls (4.0%/4.3%) than for boys (14.3%/46.8%).
While that does seem somewhat high, the table attached to that report suggests around 70% of males 18 and older Smoke in Taiwan.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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