Toddler attacker should get rehab: experts

Updated: 2013-12-10 07:43

By Luo Wangshu in Chongqing (China Daily)

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Criminal-law experts say the 10-year-old girl who brutally attacked a toddler in an elevator in Chongqing should be sent to a juvenile detention center to undergo rehabilitation.

Chongqing police said on Friday that they could not file criminal charges against the girl because she is a minor. The girl recently moved to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with her mother, who made a job transfer to the region on Dec 2.

By law, children younger than 14 years old are shielded from criminal responsibility. The law stipulates that parents and guardians are obligated to discipline them.

"It is neither appropriate for police to let the case go, nor leave the girl's discipline to her parents. Obviously, there is something wrong with this family's methods of education. She should be sent to the juvenile prison for rehab," said Wu Ming'an, a criminal law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.

Footage from a security camera in the elevator shows the girl attacking the boy repeatedly on the ride from the first to the 25th floor of the building, where she lives with her parents.

She told police that she took the boy home and beat him on the sofa in the living room. She then took him to the balcony to play, but the boy fell over the rail.

The boy was found on the ground outside the apartment building covered in blood and with multiple serious injuries.

Most of the details of the sequence of events after the attack have been taken from the girl's statement to the police, who have not confirmed the girl's statement because they will not conduct an investigation.

Police also said that the girl said in her statement to the police that the boy fell 25 floors, though she lied about where the 18-month-old boy fell outside the building in an attempt to cover her story up.

Wu said no child at or younger than age 10 has ever been sent for rehabilitation in China, but made an exception in this case because the girl showed seriously offensive behavior and viciously hurt the toddler with intent.

The boy, Li Xinyuan, remained in the intensive care unit at Chongqing Medical University Children's Hospital on Monday.

His father, Li Shengzhong, told China Daily that the toddler had his first meal on Sunday afternoon since the attack.

"The nurse fed him some porridge and bread," Li said.

The boy, who has fractures to his skull and right eye socket, is scheduled for surgery this week.

Wang Jian, director of the publicity office of Changshou district in Chongqing, told China Daily that the local court has accepted the family's civil case.

Dan Xingming, a lawyer for the boy's family, said the family has demanded 300,000 yuan ($49,400) in compensation from the girl's family. The girl's family has already paid 78,000 yuan to pay for the boy's medical care and operation.

The case has triggered anger on the Internet. People have questioned whether it is fair to let the girl go without any punishment.

Wu said that more young people are committing crimes and added that experts discussed reducing the age threshold for children who are shielded from criminal responsibility for serious crimes.

"It is more difficult for a child to change or make a better life after being labeled as a criminal at a young age. So our law encourages education instead of punishment," Wu said.

Song Yanhui, a faculty member at the China Youth University for Political Sciences who specializes in adolescent violence, said the attack was a tragedy.

Though Song believed it is too early to analyze the girl's mental condition and motivation because information is limited, she said most children who commit crimes are affected by their family and schools.

"In most cases, children have limited access to society, family and school. These are the main factors that cause their behavior problems," she said.

"Whatever the reasons and motivations are, we are making assumptions right now based on limited information. But a child's problems will make society think and reflect. In this case, both kids are victims," she said.