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China bans tough treatment of young Web addicts
Published on: 2009-11-06
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BEIJING — China has issued rules banning the beating and confinement of youths being treated for Internet addiction after revelations of abuse at rehabilitation clinics, including the death of one teenager.

The regulations posted on the health ministry's website Wednesday stressed that restraint must be used in dealing with such youngsters as "the concept of 'Internet addiction' has not been fully defined".

It added: "Parents and teachers must analyse the causes and not arbitrarily condemn, hit or scold youths... intervention methods that restrict personal freedom are strictly forbidden and corporal punishment (is) strictly forbidden."

In August, the beating death of a teenage boy enrolled by his parents at an Internet addiction camp in southern China's Guangxi region provoked outrage across the country.

The 15-year-old's death led to the discovery of abuse and beatings at other similar clinics.

At the time, local press reports said China had up to 10 million teenage Web addicts and at least 400 private Internet rehabilitation clinics nationwide.

Up to 60 percent of the nation's estimated online population of 338 million users were not of adult age, the health ministry said.

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