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Beatings No Longer Allowed at Chinese Internet Addiction Clinics

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posted 11:15 PM EST, Thu November 05, 2009
Beatings No Longer Allowed at Chinese Internet Addiction Clinics © Photo Credit: CTRL-F5

During August a 15 year old was beaten to death and a 14 year old was hospitalized after a beating, in 2 separate incidents at Chinese internet addiction treatment facilities.

In July, China banned the use of electroshock therapy as a treatment for internet addiction. It has now added beatings and physical confinement to its list of unacceptable ‘treatments’.

Chinese doctors have defined internet addiction as staying online for more than 6 hours per day coupled with cravings for the internet and irritability when not online - and based on this definition, up to 10% of internet users under the age of 18 in China meet the diagnostic criteria – well over ten million teen internet addicts.

To meet this growing social problem, scores of largely unregulated internet addiction clinics have offered their services, with mixed and sometimes tragic results. In August, a 15 year old boy in Southern China died within a day of his arrival at a ‘boot camp’ style program, after spending much of the day in solitary confinement and after receiving beatings for running too slowly. A few days later, a 14 year old teen at another internet training center was hospitalized after a beating at the hands of the training center’s principal.

The outcry that followed these two events likely prompted the government into regulatory action, and the Chinese Ministry of Health has now released a draft statement of new guidelines, which call for health workers to “strictly prohibit restriction of personal freedom and physical punishments."

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