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September 26, 2017

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Relationship education vital to stopping crimes of passion

The recent high-profile political scandal centering around former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih (林益世) has taken most of the local media spotlight for the past week, overshadowing the equally shocking news of the murder of a female student at Miaoli City's National United University (NUU) (聯合大學).

The victim, a promising, recent graduate who was dreaming of becoming a news anchor, was found dead in her dorm room with 17 stab wounds.

Police later arrested a 22-year-old male student of the same university, surnamed Lin, who eventually confessed to the murder.

Lin told the police that he and the victim rented separate rooms on different floors of the same building. He said he had learned the victim was moving and offered to help. He also asked twice for her phone number and was turned down both times.

Furious at being rejected, Lin returned to her room again with a fruit knife. Police found that the deep wounds in the back of the victim's neck were the main cause of death.

The murder has sent shockwaves through the NUU. Those who knew the victim, who was quite a celebrity around campus, started a campaign to pray for her.

Classmates of the suspect called Lin a loner and something of a nerd. They described him as having few friends and spending most of his free time reading comic books, watching TV and movies, and playing online games.

The tragedy has reminded us of another similar crime of passion earlier this year in Japan in which two young female Taiwanese students were killed in a double homicide.

Japanese police later determined that 30-year-old Taiwanese man Chang Chih-yang (張志揚) was responsible for the crime.

Chang, who committed suicide days later, committed the heinous act out of unrequited love, according to Japanese authorities.

Such a tragedy is not uncommon in modern Taiwanese society. As a matter of fact, similar cases have happened more often than we realize, with a survey showing that there is at least one reported crime of passion every two days.

Local scholars, however, recently found that it is increasingly common for perpetrators, mostly men, to assault or kill their victims simply because they are frustrated after having their advances rejected.

The thing tying all these cases together is that the killers murder their victims before even beginning a relationship.

Such a trend is truly alarming, as pointed out by local scholars, since it shows that the younger generation in Taiwan is having difficulty handling interpersonal relationships at a time when people are communicating mostly in the digital realm instead of through real-world contact.

Spending too much time in the virtual world, like Lin, means many Taiwanese youths lack experience interacting with real people and therefore are more likely to react dangerously to rejection.

Also, Taiwan's education system, which puts much emphasis on getting good grades but fails to teach students how to build healthy interpersonal relationships, should also be blamed.

Many parents tell their children to study hard in order to enter a good college or university, and that is when he or she can start to date. But no one has taught them how to handle a relationship, or how to handle rejection.

Learning about relationships is in fact a very important part of life education for Taiwan's youth. What our educators should do is teach students how to show respect to their loved ones and show respect for others' lives as well as their own.

Our young should also learn that while romantic relationships are important, there is much more to life. Being rejected or breaking up is not the end of the world, but a necessary life experience through which we grow.

It is only with proper education that tragedies like those in Miaoli and Tokyo can be stopped from happening again.

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