A lesson for anti-bullying law

Updated: 2016-01-16 09:24

By Li Fangchao(China Daily)

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A lesson for anti-bullying law

Three Chinese students attending a high school in southern California will serve time behind bars for kidnapping and assaulting a female classmate in a high-profile bullying case.

Zhai Yunyao, Yang Yuhan and Zhang Xinlei reached a plea deal with prosecutors on Jan 5. The three 19-year-olds pleaded no contest to criminal charges of kidnapping and assault. Zhai, the prime culprit, faces 13 years in prison, Yang 10 years and Zhang 6 years, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times. And they will be deported to China after serving their sentences.

The bullying case, which came to light in March 2014, has caused quite a stir in China. The case, the media speculated, involved a dispute over a love affair and the target of the three students, who sought the help of some other teenagers, was an 18-year-old female classmate surnamed Liu. The victim testified that she was taken to a park, stripped, kicked, slapped and burned with cigarettes. Her ordeal, she said, lasted more than five hours.

The plea deal was "the best resolution" as there is "too much of a risk to go to trial", the attorney of one of the defendants was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. And prosecutors agreed to drop the torture charge under the plea deal.

The three students were "deeply shocked" after learning that what they assumed to be a "prank" was actually a felony in the United States which could lead to a life sentence, according to media reports. Judging from their reaction, the three thought the maximum punishment they would get was demerit points from their school. Worse, a parent of one of the students was also detained for trying to bribe prosecutors into dropping the case.

The California case shows how ignorant Chinese students and parents are about US laws, but it also serves as a reference for similar cases in China. Bullying incidents are not rare in China's schools. Bullying cases have hit the headlines from time to time; sometimes perpetrators have even uploaded videos of their misdeeds on the Internet.

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