Fourteen Chinese girls between the ages of 15 and 17 were sentenced to up to seven days of hard labor in a trial program that aims to eliminate bullying in schools.
The female students were sentenced on Monday by the Tongzhou District People’s Court, which runs the trial in partnership with local schools, according to local newspaper The Mirror. One of the students, however, was sentenced to a year and 10 months.
The program, reportedly conducted in the presence of parents, involves hard labor and military training. Upon completion, schools will determine whether to re-admit or expel convicted students.
Wei Dan of the Tongzhou District People’s Court told The Mirror that offenders also take part in other activities, such as listening to legal lectures, receiving psychological support and visiting nursing homes for the elderly.
“We arrange for them to undergo special military training on the first day, so that in future, they will be able to consciously abide by the school rules,” Wei said, adding that all offenders so far expressed willingness to continue their studies.
Netizens on Chinese social media were quick to support the program, though some called for harsher punishments. BBC took note of some comments:
“This sentence is too light.”
“It is not enough to make them learn their lesson.”
“It is not as good as Yang Yongxin’s electro-convulsive therapy,” said one online user, referring to a psychiatrist who employed such method in treating teenage antisocial behavior.
But others worried that the program may only worsen the bullies, as completion can make them physically stronger.
Still, some felt sorry for the offenders:
“Speaking as a student, I think military training will be a really painful thing.”
“How do kids nowadays see this? I feel sorry for them.”
What do you think of hard labor as a sentence for teenage bullies? Share your thoughts in the comments.