Planet China

Grandpa goes rogue

An incident at a kindergarten in Guiyang has rapidly become China’s most famous accidental kidnapping. Involving a six year-old boy, an errant grandfather and some far-from-foolproof school security procedures, it saw the wrong child picked up at the end of the day. According to on June 8 a grandfather turned up to collect his grandson Hongrui at the kindergarten in the capital of Guizhou province. However, he instead took away a boy with the similar sounding name Hongyu. Afterwards he brought the boy to a restaurant and even took him for a flu shot. Only later did the kindergarten realise the error when other parents turned up to pick up the rest of the kids. Parents began circulating photos of Hongyu and the old man (taken by surveillance cameras) on WeChat groups, which led to the mother and father of Hongrui recognising the grandfather and contacting him to return the child to his real family.

How could this have happened? It turns out that the grandfather had only arrived from his rural home the previous day and didn’t know his grandson. When he showed up at the classroom he mentioned his name, and the wrong child identified himself. When the teacher asked if it was his grandpa he said yes. However, the school says protocols broke down at this stage, as the teacher should have called a parent to confirm the identity of the unknown man. Security was also lax: people who pick up kids should have an access card, but the old man was able to walk straight into the classroom without holding one. There have also been questions about the ease with which he was able to get the boy a flu jab at the hospital, despite having no form of child ID.

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