Caixin
Dec 29, 2016 03:03 PM
POLITICS & LAW

Top Prosecutor Says 2,300 Students Charged in Bullying, Attacks Across Country Over 11 Months

(Beijing) — More than 2,300 students, mostly high schoolers, were charged with bullying and inciting violence on campuses across China between January and November, and of that number, over 1,000 students were arrested, the country's top prosecutor’s office said.

Police detained 1,881 students accused of bullying and violent attacks on campuses in the 11-month period, and 1,114 were formally arrested, according to statistics released by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The supreme prosecutor said that law enforcement officials nationwide had pressed charges against 2,337 students, including many arrested in previous years, over bullying-related crimes such as grievous bodily harm.

The statistics offered a rare insight into a growing problem on Chinese campuses that has been largely ignored by educators and regulators due to a lack of awareness.

Chinese social media has been buzzing about a war of words that erupted between a mother of a 10-year-old student at the prestigious Zhongguancun No. 2 Primary School in Beijing and school authorities over an alleged bullying incident in late November.

The mother wrote in an article published on WeChat on Dec. 8 that her son was attacked by two of his classmates who allegedly put an overturned trash can over the victim’s head in a school restroom on Nov. 24, leaving him covered in soiled toilet paper.

She took the case to the internet after school authorities refused to acknowledge the case as an act of bullying, insisting that it was merely a prank that went too far.

School bullying is not a legal term under Chinese law, and law enforcement authorities can step in to prosecute only those who commit an act that constitutes a crime such as grievous body harm, or gang fighting, according to Shi Weizhong, head of an office overseeing juvenile crimes at the supreme prosecutor’s office.

In one case cited by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, a 15-year-old was sentenced to three years in prison earlier in 2016 for armed robbery on a school campus and grievous bodily harm for beating up fellow students on multiple occasions. The prosecutor’s office did not identify the student.

In addition to criminal punishment, Shi said, legislation should be improved to offer counseling or correctional treatment at special schools to perpetrators of bullying in the early stages of such cases to better tackle the problem.

Contact reporter Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com)

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