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New Law Protects Children's Rights

In the Confucian tradition, parents are only behind the heaven, the earth and the emperor in the pecking order.


But things are changing and Chinese children are getting to know their rights - and how to defend them.


For instance, Beijing resident Teresa Lin was surprised when her 11--year-old son announced that she would commit an offence if she read his diaries without permission.


"Don' try to do that, mom," he told her. "It's illegal."


Privacy is one of the rights highlighted in the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors, which goes into effect today, International Children's Day. It was approved by the National People's Congress last December.


It stipulates that no individual or organizations can open or read letters, diaries or emails of minors except in certain instances.


And should Lin insist on violating her son's privacy, the boy can lodge a complaint against his mother, according to Ju Qing, who participated in drafting of the law.


"What gives the law teeth is that it has a clause saying an organization should be set up focusing solely on the protection of minors' rights," said the researcher at the China Youth and Children Studies Center affiliated to the Communist Youth League of China.


The organization will be set up at different levels of the government, and accept complaints, make regulations to protect the rights of children in various situations such as the homeless and juvenile delinquents, as well as conduct investigations into schools and public places, she said.


China has between 1 and 1.5 million homeless children, according to the Women and Children's Working Committee of the State Council.


(China Daily June 1, 2007)

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