Chinese Internet Addiction Camp Shuts Down Amid Torture Allegations

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A former student said the environment at the rehabilitation camp was so torturous she even considered committing suicide to get away from the cruelty.

younger generation in China

The younger generation in China, much like the youth everywhere else around the world, is obsessed with internet and video games – and the country is trying to deal with the problem in a really strange way.

In order to tackle the problem, a number of supposed internet rehabilitation camps began popping up across the county, imploring parents to enroll their children in such programs to treat their internet addiction.

However, these camps don’t function exactly the way most parents hope.

Yuzhang Shuyuan Institute, a digital detox camp in southeast China’s Nanchang, reportedly used torture methods to “help” teenagers. Although the camp was pricey as it cost 30,000 yuan (over $4,500) for a six-month program, desperate parents admitted their children in hopes of a better life.

But the institute was closed down after former students made some horrific allegations against the camp officials.

The students claimed the teachers at the institute would lock them up in windowless cells for weeks, beat them up with iron rulers and finger-thick steel cables as many as 30 times a week.

 After the claims by students, authorities opened an investigation into the incident and found the claims to be true. Therefore, closure of the so-called detox camp was announced.

In advertisements on social media, the institute claimed to give “teenagers in crises” a chance of a better life by using Confucius philosophy. The school also bragged about its way of teaching by posting pictures of students in uniforms reading literature.

However, another former student, who goes by the name “Shan Ni Ma Da Wang,” said the methods were exactly the opposite and were extremely cruel. While sharing her ordeal she said she was admitted to the institute in 2014 by her mother.

The girl added she was tricked and didn’t know till the last minute about her admission. She said she was forced into handcuffs by the camp’s staff and was later shifted to a tiny, windowless room for three straight days.

At one point, Shan claimed was beaten severely by teacher with an iron rod.

The girl, now 17-years-old, said the environment at the institute was so torturous she even considered committing suicide in order to get away from the cruelty.

While giving an interview to Beijing Times, Shan recalled an incident when she witnessed a girl being beaten cruelly by a teacher with a solid steel rod. She said the screams of that girl in pain still haunted her.

The girl’s account encouraged more students to come forward and share their horrific experience at the detox camp.

Another former student, Zhou Yi, said he was stripped naked. After three days, he lost track of time and days.

After reports of abuse by former students, the school district took action and not only announced the closure of the camp but also confirmed the torture methods used on students. The camp administration is also subjected to pay a fine.

After the school district authorities’ announcement, headmaster of the detox camp confirmed of the closure and said alternative arrangements of current students will be made. However, he didn’t make any comment on the torture methods.

The reports of abuse come just three months after a similar “detox camp” claimed the life of a teenager. In August, an 18-year-old, identified as Li Ao from Anhui province, died just two days after he started receiving gaming addiction treatment.

His parents reportedly tried encouraging him to set up a business, travel or join the army, but in vain. As a last resort, the concerned parents decided to send him to an internet rehab camp.

Little did they know that their decision would cost their son's life.

In China, fake internet rehab camps are not new. These camps market themselves, fooling parents about how their children, who aren’t disciplined, will get on the right path. Some claim to use military tactics, while others go with psychological counseling.

Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Kim Kyung-Hoon

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