After recent horrific case, some believe harsh crackdown on bullying is due
The campus bullying case involving a 10-year-old boy in Datong, Shanxi province, has sparked heated discussion about possible harsher punishment for minors who commit very vile offenses and has led to calls for concerted efforts to crack down on campus violence.
Local authorities said on Tuesday that the two bullies — both aged 9 and classmates of the victim — have been ordered to apologize, and to receive psychological counseling and behavioral correction. Five administrators at the boarding school, including the principal, have been dismissed.
The bullied boy suffered severe harm to his physical and mental condition, so legal penalties must be implemented.
Li Hongbo, a professor from the China University of Political Science and Law
Li Hongbo, a professor from the China University of Political Science and Law's Institute of Rule of Law, said that the two minors carried out physical and sexual assaults that deeply shocked the public.
"The bullied boy suffered severe harm to his physical and mental condition, so legal penalties must be implemented," he said in an article released on Wednesday.
"Also, as the case has triggered widespread anxiety and worries among the public and parents, we see a need for the whole of society to prevent bullying at school."
The public's grievances against the local authorities' handling of the case mostly center on the mild punishment dealt to the two young offenders.
Laws in China stipulate that only children aged 14 and above will bear criminal responsibility and undergo penalties for violating public security.
However, Li said that children and teenagers who commit serious offenses can be sent to specialized schools for correction, citing China's Law on Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency.
"At these special schools, students will receive correctional education under the supervision of public security, judicial and administrative authorities, and they are not able to enter or leave freely," he said. "Such an institute can help assuage the public's concerns over the neglect of juvenile crimes."
He added that parents of children committing appalling assaults should also assume civil liability for compensation.
In the case of Shanxi province, the parents of the two bullies were ordered to apologize and receive training on family education, said Li. "Given the dire consequences of their bullying, the parents will likely pay substantial compensation to the bullied child."
Li added that the parents of the young victim can also file a lawsuit against the school for failing in their management responsibilities and can request compensation.
To prevent campus bullying, Li said that parents should spend time and communicate with their children more often, and schools should step up legal and moral education. Boarding schools in particular should strengthen management to curb violence and assaults.
Zhang Miao, a lawyer at Jingzhe Law Firm in Beijing, said during an interview with China National Radio that rectification measures should involve the children themselves, as well as their guardians and the school.
"Schools are also expected to form systems to prevent and intervene in school bullying while strengthening education on law among students," he added.
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