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Teenager beaten in Internet boot camp
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A 14-year-old boy is in critical condition after being repeatedly beaten by a counselor and other students at an Internet addiction camp in Zhongjiang County, Sichuan Province.

Pu Liang was found in solitary confinement at the camp last Thursday and is now receiving treatment at West China Second University Hospital.

"He is suffering from water on the lungs and kidney failure," his father Pu Shiwei told China Daily yesterday. "All injuries were done by the people at the camp."

Pu Liang's mother cares for him at the hospital after he was severely beaten at an Internet rehab center. Pu was rescued by police.

Pu Liang's mother cares for him at the hospital after he was severely beaten at an Internet rehab center. Pu was rescued by police. [China Daily]

His parents sent him to a training camp held by the Chinese Anti-traditional Education Training Center in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, on Aug 4.

The camp, which was not registered with the Ministry of Health, claims to treat Internet addicts, children with social problems and those who have had trouble with the law.

The doctor told the parents their son's kidney failure was caused by being hit, the father said.

"My son was severely injured after he was beaten three times by the counselor and other students," Pu said.

But the training center denied that counselor Tang Jingcheng beat the boy. They claimed that it was other students who beat Pu Liang because he couldn't get along with them.

Tang has been detained by the public security bureau of Zhongjiang county after it received a report from parents of another abused child in the camp last Tuesday, said Wanpeng, captain of the bureau. The camp was closed last Wednesday.

"The case is still under investigation and we're applying to arrest him for intentional injury," he said. "The rest of the kids have been taken home."

The assault comes less than three weeks after 15-year-old Deng Senshan was beaten to death by counselors at Qihang Salvation Training Camp in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"My son got addicted to online games and frequented Internet cafes," said Pu Liang's mother Li Shubing. "At the end of last semester, my son said he didn't want to go to school."

Li happened to see an advertisement for the training camp that claimed it could cure teenagers like her son.

So the parents signed a contract with the center and paid 5,000 yuan (US$715).

The boy was allegedly beaten three times between Aug 4 and Aug 11.

He was found in solitary confinement by local police last Thursday and immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.

Family members said they have run out of money for the boy's treatment and they want cash from the training center for further treatment.

But Wu Yongjing, head of the training center, said: "Our training school is responsible for his injury but we won't cover the medical expenses right now."

"Everything has to wait until the court gives a final verdict."

China has 10 million "teenage Web addicts", according to a China Youth Internet Association survey last year.

The association announced last week there were at least 400 private rehab clinics across the country.

However, Ministry of Health officials said yesterday none of them are legally registered, while the nation has no official diagnostic method to assist doctors or any clear guidance for parents worried about a youngster's Internet usage.

Health authorities have been urging a new system that is able to supervise rehab clinics.

(China Daily August 19, 2009)

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