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Tough rules to stamp out bullying

By Jiang Chenglong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-28 07:30

Students who repeatedly bully classmates can now be sent to special schools for juvenile offenders, according to new measures introduced on Wednesday aimed at ensuring campus safety.

Regulations issued by 11 central government agencies, including the ministries of education and public security, and the Supreme People's Court, set out what behaviors are considered bullying and the potential consequences.

A bully is defined in the document as any individual or group that uses insults-in person or online-or physical violence resulting in another person or group being affected financially or mentally.

"The definition provides obvious criteria for judging whether a student's improper behaviors are bullying or harmless fun," said Li Wen, an expert on campus safety for the Chinese Education Society.

"In addition, the regulations state that regardless of how many times one side bullies another-repeatedly, accidentally or one time-each incident will be given strict attention. That can help prevent bullying incidents from escalating," she added.

The new measures were devised based on field research in places that reported frequent bullying in 2016.

In a survey of 104,825 students from 29 counties nationwide in 2016, 33 percent of students said they had experienced bullying and 4.7 percent were frequently victimized, according to the ministry.

Students who commit minor offenses should be dealt with by their school and apologize to the victims, while those who cause obvious physical or mental harm should be warned and reported to the police, the regulations state.

Repeat offenders and those who seriously break the law now face being transferred to schools for juvenile offenders.

"It's a school's main responsibility to deal with bullying. All primary and middle schools should set up a committee for such problems," said He Xiuchao, director of supervision for the Education Ministry.

"Schools also should hire people with a legal background as vice-principals to take charge of all legal affairs."

Xu Yanhong, principal of Taiyuan No 2 Experimental Primary School in Shanxi province, said his school holds various education activities for students, such as legal knowledge competitions, to enhance their awareness.

"We have also set up a complaints box for those who are bullied," he said.

On Nov 2, Xicheng District People's Court in Beijing sentenced five female vocational college students to prison terms of 11 or 12 months for bullying.

The girls, all age under 18, beat and humiliated two fellow students in a dormitory, resulting in the victims suffering minor injuries and depression.

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