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China’s class action: Beijing bans teachers from using harsh physical and mental punishments to discipline schoolchildren

China’s class action: Beijing bans teachers from using harsh physical and mental punishments to discipline schoolchildren
China’s 15 million schoolteachers are no longer allowed to physically or verbally abuse children in their classes and are prohibited from using any punishment that might inflict pain or trauma.

The new rules from Beijing’s Ministry of Education took effect Monday and prohibit teachers from using any disciplinary measures that cause physical or mental trauma, or humiliate pupils.

A theoretical ban on corporal punishment has been in effect since 1986, however a number of high-profile incidents have drawn attention to gaps in compliance with the prohibition.

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Some of the more recent cases causing outcry in China include the reported death of a 10-year-old schoolgirl in Sichuan last September, after she was beaten about the head by a maths teacher for doing two sums incorrectly. Meanwhile in Jiangsu last summer, a student in fifth grade who was humiliated in class by her teacher reportedly later died by suicide.

The new rules ban corporal punishments, as well as setting additional guidelines on what teachers can and can’t do to keep children in check. Educators across China will now be encouraged to make students write apologies for their misdemeanors, or perform classroom chores as forms of punishment for issues such as failing to complete assigned homework.

The ministry said that students who commit more serious offenses can be suspended from school, or may have to undergo counseling.

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