Criminalize 'child abuse' now

Updated: 2014-09-25 11:35

By Li Yang(

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Laws should strictly protect children and Chinese lawmakers should not wait to revise legislation on the protection of minors and criminalize “child abuse”, says a Beijing News article.


Some horrible child abuse cases have been exposed online. Although an angry public expects law enforcement departments to severely punish the evil doers, few changes occur in the protection of minors. Society’s keen attention has not reduced the frequency of such tragedies.

Under China’s criminal law, abusers of family members can be imprisoned for two years at most in severe cases. This is far from enough. If abusers are not family members of affected children, the case against them is weakened. It is difficult to define severity in child abuse because the psychological damage to a child is hard to evaluate.

Even if the abuse causes death or severe injuries to victims, the most severe punishment is seven years’ imprisonment, which is much lighter than intentional injury and murder. Under the current legal framework, only when victims report suspected abusers can authorities initiate investigations. But few children can do this, especially when abused by close relatives.

Analysts have urged the legislature to recognize “child abuse” in criminal law.

China passed and amended its Law on the Protection of Minors in 1991 and 2006, clearly stipulating the duties and responsibilities of parents and other guardians, schools and law enforcement authorities in protecting minors.

But the law is only regarded as a manifesto-style proposal calling for relevant parties to protect children. There is no enforcement mechanism or even a specific enforcement agency to monitor the situation.