In recent years, and in the wake of the largest recorded global displacement of people since World War II, the brutal living conditions in Australian offshore detention centers has fallen under international scrutiny. In March 2015, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture criticized the Australian government for inadequate detention conditions.
Why don’t Chinese socializers want their children to be compassionate and altruistic, or, at least, not too much? Why don’t young children share things in an egalitarian fashion, despite being told to do so by teachers and parents? Do these singleton children take for granted that everything belongs to them, or do they learn to negotiate ownership disputes and establish fairness rules? Are these children self-centered “little emperors” or are they well-disciplined students? My book, The Good Child: Moral Development in a Chinese Preschool examines these and other puzzling questions I encountered during my fieldwork in Shanghai, from 2011 to 2012.