China's new law to hold parents responsible for children's criminal behavior
Published: Oct 19, 2021 10:03 PM
Three children play at a playground accompanied by their parents and grandparent. Photo: VCG

Three children play at a playground accompanied by their parents and grandparent. Photo: VCG

China is drafting a law stipulating that parents are responsible for preventing their underage children from developing internet addiction as well as protecting them from excessive academic burdens. The law also says that parents may be reprimanded if their minor children commit crimes. 

The third reading of a draft law on the promotion of family education started on Tuesday at the 31st session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC). The law clarifies the boundary between family and school education, specifically targeting parents who either put too much pressure on their children or are too lax in nurturing them.

The law can help implement China's new "double reduction" policy, which aims to ease the burden of homework and off-campus tutoring on minor students, said education insiders.

Zang Tiewei, spokesperson for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the NPC, said at a press conference on Monday that in response to parents who impose excessive learning burdens on their minor children, the third draft added relevant regulations and made provisions to ease parents' anxiety in family education.

The draft stipulates that family education should respect the physical and mental development patterns and individual differences of minors.

Family education service institutions are not allowed to offer profit-making tutoring, and those who go beyond their permitted business scope will be penalized, according to the draft.

The draft law made clear that local governments will act to reduce the homework burden and off-campus training burden of students. 

Parents or guardians who fail to fulfill their family education duties, or incorrectly do so, will bear legal responsibility. If a minor misbehaves or commits crimes, the guardians will be reprimanded or ordered to go through a family education guiding program. 

By emphasizing the importance of family education, the law informs Chinese parents of the major dos and don'ts in educating their underage children, so they will act as wise guardians when their children have more after-school time under "double reduction," Yang Xiong, a research fellow at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the chief expert of Shanghai Family Education Research Association, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Considering the difficulties that families of left-behind children face, the draft added regulations including requesting local governments to file documents for those families, and provide living assistance and other support for starting businesses or getting jobs locally, in order to create the conditions for the guardians to carry out family education. 

The draft also stresses that it will function jointly with the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Anti-domestic Violence Law, so as to further prevent wrongful education measures and domestic violence.

The draft defines parents' responsibility and behavior boundaries in educating their children from the legal perspective. But it focuses more on advocating and encouraging parents to educate their children properly, rather than simply imposing mandatory constraints on them, Yang said. 

"Excessive intervention in family education is not in line with traditional Chinese culture," he added.

Legal education among parents will be essential after the law passes, Yang noted. The "parent license" proposed in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, and the "parenting schools" built in some communities in Shanghai are "very good explorations" in promoting family education, he said.