Chinese police investigate murder of teenager

Chinese police are investigating a boot camp for Internet addicts after a teenage boy was allegedly beaten to death by counselors just hours after checking in.

Four trainers from the Qihang Salvation Training Camp in Nanning, in Guangxi province, were detained in connection with 15-year-old Deng Senshan’s death, after injuries were found all over his body.

“We are investigating a case where a high-school student was beaten to death by his camp supervisors. The case is still under investigation,” a police officer told the Global Times.

The camp had promised to put Deng under 24-hour supervision, his father Deng Fei told the paper.

Deng paid 7,000 yuan ($1,024) for his son to stay at the camp for a month.

Camp staff are alleged to have put the teenager in solitary confinement on Saturday and then beaten him that evening, apparently for running too slowly.

“My son was very healthy and was not a criminal. He just had an Internet addiction when I left him at the camp,” Deng said. “We can’t believe our only son was beaten to death.”

China has the world’s largest population of webizens at 338 million.

The Chinese government is concerned that Internet addiction is turning into a national issue and there are a growing number of rehabilitation centers for Internet addicts in China, most of them teenagers.

Some studies say that nearly 10% of the country’s 100 million teenage web users could be addicted, and the government has introduced various measures to deal with the problem.

Internet boot camps are run like army facilities. Drill instructors put patients through their paces on the running track and the obstacle course as the young addicts try to cure their addictions.

“The tragedy is not accidental. Most rehab camps adopt military training, but many teenage Internet addicts cannot handle it well. Thus it comes with conflicts and violence,” said Tao Ran, director of the country’s first Internet addiction clinic.

The China Daily quoted an agreement that the teenager’s parents signed with the camp that said: “The center can take necessary approaches including punishment to educate the teenager, as long as the approaches will not abuse the child or impair his health.”

In July, the Ministry of Health banned the use of electroshock therapy as a treatment option, following negative media coverage of a center where thousands of children were being shocked to stop their online addictions.

Two years ago, a young Chinese man dropped dead after playing Internet games for three consecutive days.

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