TAIWAN. Taiwanese schoolchildren are being asked to sit in class with their hands bound behind their backs and sticky plaster over their mouths while being bombarded with questions about their parents' finances.
A bizarre form of punishment? Not at all. Taiwan has the second-highest kidnapping rate in Asia (after the Philippines) and is teaching all pupils how to resist and handle abduction.
Children are taught to avoid quiet streets and to check that no one is lurking suspiciously near lifts. If the worst happens - there were 156 kidnapping cases last year and another 34 in the first months of this year - they learn how to persuade their kidnapper to take them to a more public place where they are more likely to get help, and to evade questions about their parents' business.
Children are advised to keep up their strength, not to refuse food and to think positively about being rescued.
The courses were initiated by the education ministry in response to a public outcry following the kidnapping and murder in April of Pai Hsiao-yen, the teenage daughter of television star Pai Ping-ping.
About 50,000 concerned parents demonstrated against the government's inability to apprehend the murderers. The girl was found dead even though her mother paid the ransom.