Six days ago a Chinese boy was reported missing, his parents had left him in the woods briefly for punishment and when they returned to collect him he had vanished! They were very remorseful, they knew they’d made a giant mistake that would probably cost their son his life. Miraculously he was found days later, and not in bad condition considering he was stuck in a bear infested forest without food. Police are considering filing child neglect charges against the parents of the young 7-year-old boy.
When a soldier found him the first thing he said was “I’m hungry”. He devoured two rice balls that he’d been given and was rushed to the hospital because of mild dehydration and malnutrition. Talk about feeling like the worst parents in the world when they found their poor son!
Local media reported the boy survived by sleeping between two mattresses inside the abandoned military dormitory which was an unheated wooden building.
He told police he had been drinking water from a tap outside the building while he was staying inside the military base.
Dr Yoshiyuki Sakai, the doctor who examined Yamato, told Asahi TV, the child appeared to be in a good condition for a boy who had not had food for six days.
The seven-year-old was suffering mild dehydration and malnutrition, and had a mild rash and scratches on his arms and legs.
According to The Guardian, a doctor said: ‘He was incredibly calm considering he had been missing for seven days. He didn’t panic at all’.
Appearing outside the hospital where he was reunited with his son, his father Takayuki Tanooka said: ‘We have raised him with love all along.
‘I really didn’t think it would come to that. We went too far. I thought we were doing it for my son’s own good.’
Asked what he had told his son, Mr Tanooka, fighting back tears, said: ‘I told him I was so sorry for causing him such pain.’
The nation welcomed the boy’s safe return. Old photos of Yamato, of him wearing a cowboy hat, holding up two fingers in a peace sign, or with his fringe falling over a proud smile, were flashed across TV screens again and again.
Daijiro Hashimoto, a former governor appearing on a talk show on TV Asahi, wondered how the boy had endured the loneliness, especially at night, and suggested that perhaps he had imagined he was on an adventure and was hiding in a secret camp.
‘He had to keep a very positive attitude,’ Mr Hashimoto said, reflecting widespread sentiment in the country.
‘He is fantastic. He didn’t know how long it might take, and when he would ever be saved.’
Earlier in the week, Mr Tanooka expressed deep regret for his actions, saying: ‘We have done an unforgivable thing to our child and we have caused a lot of trouble for everyone. I just hope he is safe.’
More than 180 rescuers, including soldiers, were scouring the Higashionuma area where the parents said they dropped the boy off.
There were no signs of the boy or any eyewitness reports of him, according to police.
Bears are sometimes seen in the mountains of Hokkaido, but an attack by one of the animals is unlikely because none has been spotted in the area, the authorities said.
The boy’s mysterious disappearance had captured international attention, with many praying for his safe return.
Many people bitterly criticised the parents, triggering a debate over whether their treatment of the boy was discipline or child abuse.
The parents initially said he disappeared while they were picking wild vegetables, but later admitted they made him get out of the car as ‘discipline’ after he threw stones at people during a visit to a park.
Mr Tanooka said the boy was gone when he drove back to the spot a few minutes later.
Police said they are considering whether the parents should be charged with child abandonment.
‘Making children obey by giving them fear or pain is bad parenting, it’s abuse,’ Naoki Ogi, a professor of education at Hosei University, said in his blog.
Most of the time I think people need to mind their own business when it comes to other’s parenting. In this case, they could have killed their son, they were rebuked on social media as neglectful parents. They even went as far as saying that if the child was throwing stones at cars there wasn’t enough love or discipline in the home anyway. Do you think these parents should be punished for awful parenting?
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