China drafts new law that will see parents punished if children exhibit ‘very bad behaviour’

Parents and guardians could be ordered to go through family education guidance programmes

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 18 October 2021 12:57 BST
File: A student leaves on a scooter following the end of the day’s school session in Beijing on 10 September 2021
File: A student leaves on a scooter following the end of the day’s school session in Beijing on 10 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
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Parents of children who exhibit “very bad behaviour” or commit crimes could soon be punished in China under a new law.

Parents and guardians will be reprimanded and could be ordered to go through family education guidance programmes if prosecutors find any criminal or “very bad behaviour” in their children, according to the draft of the family education promotion bill that will be reviewed by the Chinese government this week.

“There are many reasons for adolescents to misbehave, and the lack of or inappropriate family education is the major cause,” said Zang Tiewei, spokesman of the Legislative Affairs Commission under the National People’s Congress (NPC) that will review the bill.

Parents will also be encouraged to adjust their time for several of their children’s daily activities, including rest, play and exercise.

They will also have to teach minors to “love the party, nation, people, and socialism,” according to the bill.

Parents of minors should teach their children to “obey social mores; to strengthen legal awareness and a sense of social responsibility; to establish the concepts of national unification and ethnic unity, and teach the minors to respect the elderly and care for the young,” the draft states.

The family education promotion legislation also urges parents and guardians to be “thrifty and frugal, to be united and help each other, and to form a positive character.”

It also prohibits parents from using “violence” to educate children on how to behave. While corporal punishment was banned in China in 1986, the practice remains prevalent, especially in rural parts of the country, according to local media.

Chinese families have often argued that they hit their children only to educate or teach them how to behave.

According to local television channel Nanning TV, a five-year-old boy in Nanning city near the Vietnamese border, was found last year covered in deep scars after his father abused him.

The case was widely reported to be emblematic of the widespread culture of “spare the rod, spoil the child” that is still widely prevalent in the country.

This latest bill makes up a part of a series of diktats issued by China since last year for its young citizens.

Last year, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) launched a campaign that aimed at “rectification” of the internet environment for minors during the summer holidays.

Sina Weibo, a major Chinese social media platform, had then said they would try to curb extreme fan culture, including the “blind” worship of internet celebrities.

In July this year, China banned for-profit tutoring in core school subjects in a bid to lower family living costs and to ostensibly boost the country’s birth rate.

The news was met with varying reactions. Perplexed parents were left trying to figure out how the new rules would impact their children in China’s highly competitive education system.

In August, Chinese video game regulators said they would allow children below 18 years to play online games for only an hour per day. They also said children could play online games only on Fridays, weekends and on holidays.

In the same month, Chinese state-controlled media termed online games “spiritual opium.”

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