On May 12, seven children and two adults were hacked to death, and at least 11 others were injured by a knife-wielding assailant in Shaanxi province. The murderer killed himself soon after the attack. Five such deadly attacks on school children have taken place just within one month, shocking the nation. The brutality of such attacks, particularly on defenceless children, has rightfully angered the populace. Yet, the root cause behind such tragedies needs to be reflected upon. For years, many people, including quite a few local officials in charge of the safety of residents in their jurisdiction, believed that faster economic growth and tougher laws would serve as a solution for all social ills. But now, coming face to face with campuses stained by childrens blood and witnessing guardians, overwhelmed by sorrow; the time is near to wake up. Depending entirely on 'economic development and 'rule of law, cannot address acute social conflict and lead to the establishment of a harmonious and peaceful society. In fact, the surge in assaults against children should be viewed as just the tip of the iceberg, during this period of social upheaval. We must first address, squarely, the deep-seated social conflicts thrown up by these manifest tragedies. Only then, it will be possible to prevent such incidents from recurring. So, what are these repressed social conditions? First, societal ethics and its moral compass, essential to maintain sound interpersonal relations, are collapsing. Respecting the old and loving the young, and helping the poor and caring for the weak have underpinned the nations basic moral code. The aged, children and women are without question vulnerable groups that need extra attention and care from the society at large. What is truly unnerving is that these are the very groups that are becoming innocent victims of such wanton violence. The elderly are left without support; women are being sexually harassed, and children are being abducted. Second, the unfair distribution and widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor are factors upsetting the psychological well being of society. This kind of disequilibrium may result in extreme psychological states in individuals, such as losing confidence in life, doubting the value of their lives, and disregarding or being hostile to others. For instance, the soaring prices of homes at present equate the total annual income of an ordinary worker. This great disparity in home price to income ratio goes beyond the simple logic of buying or selling; its negative effect has permeated far below the levels of the property mart, fermenting severe social pressures in contemporary China. As such, any ideology propounding the efficacy of honest labour to create happiness becomes impotent and hypocritical. The value of labour is steadily losing ground to the relative value of capital. The decline in the proportion of labour income, in gross national income distribution, is inducing people to despise honest labour and discard the spirit of mutual help and benevolence enumerated in collective labour. This has also led to questionable ethics, which is the root cause behind scandals and crimes. Therefore, the authorities should take concrete and timely measures, such as delivering steel forks to doorkeepers in Beijings primary and secondary schools, deploying one policeman and two security guards at each school, and should make determined efforts to address the underlying causes behind such tragedies. The government should have the courage to admit that the competence of the local establishment and their social management endeavours, need improvement. Moreover, all relevant departments must cooperate closely and formulate short-term and medium- to long-term plans to address the problem. Also, the government should focus more on ways to narrow the rich-poor gap, prevent unfair distribution of income, crack down on corruption and incompetence, and instil correct social values and moral restraints. Only then, the blood of those innocent children would not have been shed in vain. China Daily