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New rules better protect minors in Guangdong
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Parents who allow their children to stay out late unaccompanied by guardians are subject to punishment, a new Guangdong regulation protecting minors, which takes effect on Thursday, said.

"Several points in the new regulation place it in a vanguard position among similar regulations nationwide," Yang Jianguang, a law professor at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University and the regulation's drafting group leader, was quoted as saying in yesterday's Nanfang Daily.

The new regulation - a comprehensive revision of a similar regulation from 1989 - addresses various issues, including Internet addiction, smoking, heavy drinking, loitering and school safety, that affect the healthy development of the province's youth.

Under the rule, parents who let their children stay out late unaccompanied by guardians can receive warnings from their employers and communities, and could even face criminal penalties for violations with serious consequences.

However, Guangzhou resident Cai Liang doubted the significance of the sections on unaccompanied minors who stay out late.

"If a minor causes trouble in a KTV bar, should the parents or the KTV operator be blamed?" he said.

The regulation is the first in China forbidding adults from leaving minors alone in vehicles or to allow children younger than 12 to sit in the front seats.

The Guangdong regulation is intended to provide implementation guidelines for a national law protecting minors.

Yang said the regulation is also the first to create a category for protecting minors' psychological health. It urges schools to provide help to students with psychological problems and mental disorders, or those facing an emergency.

In addition, the regulation states schools should have more toilets for girl students than for boys, and cannot assign excessive homework or require too heavy of involvement in profit-generating activities.

It also states schools should clear students' disciplinary records before graduation if they have corrected their wrongs and forbids educators from publicly ranking students' scores.

In addition, relevant government departments, schools and grassroots organizations should respond within five days after a minor files a complaint.

"This will help create a self-protection mechanism for minors," Yang said.

While applauding the new regulation's more human-oriented approach, many residents believed enforcement of some points would prove difficult.

"It is by no means easy to define how late parents can allow their kids to stay out or how parents will be punished if their kids are discovered to be out too late," Guangzhou lawmaker Lu Qiming told China Daily yesterday.

"And it is equally difficult for schools to keep students' score rankings secret, as most parents want a general picture of their kids' whole class."

(China Daily December 30, 2008)

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