Chinese police have detained a man who beat teenagers sent to an Internet addiction camp he ran, state media said Wednesday.
Police shut down the man’s unlicensed camp in western Sichuan province after receiving a report that he had ordered students there to beat a peer for trying to run away, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Police investigating the camp later found another boy in solitary confinement and critical condition, the official China Daily said.
The 14-year-old boy was beaten three times by the camp leader and other students, his father was cited as saying.
The news follows the closure last month of another rehabilitation camp for Web-obsessed teens in southern China, where a boy was allegedly beaten to death by counsellors. Police closed that unlicensed camp and detained 13 of its staff.
Treatment centers for Internet addiction have mushroomed around China in recent years as the rising popularity of online games and chat clients has caused more parents to worry about their children’s grades and job prospects. Students at the camps often wear military fatigues and undergo boot camp-style drills and bonding activities with their parents.
The critically injured boy in Sichuan became obsessed with online games, started spending time in Internet cafes and told his parents he didn’t want to go to school, his father was quoted as saying in the China Daily.
China has over 300 Web addiction centres, but only a few dozen are “mature,” the China Youth Internet Association said last week.