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Lawyer Calls for Establishment of Child Protection Agent

A Chinese lawyer is calling for the government to establish an organization to protect children from domestic violence after the recent exposure of several child abuse cases.

"An organization should be established to identify family violence against minors and advocate for minors," said Zhang Haixia, a vice director of child protection with the Shenzhen Lawyers Association Wednesday.

On July 3, a two-year-old girl in Shenzhen was kicked to death by her mother after she vomited milk on bed sheet. In May, a three-year-old girl in Zhengzhou was beaten to death by her parents for her poor speech.

The parents of both girls admitted they had always beaten the girls when they thought they were "naughty".

China's newly-amended Law on Protection of Minors had taken effect on June 1. The law clearly stipulates family violence against children is prohibited.

Though parents are legally forbidden to beat children, there were few legal provisions to identify family violence.

"Family violence usually develops from trivial incidents and we should stop the violence at the very beginning," said Ye Zhenghang,an expert of the women's federation in Shenzhen.

"It's time for a change to avoid tragedies like the Shenzhen and Zhengzhou girls," said Ye.

In China, only extreme family violence cases in which children are killed or seriously injured are reported.

The amended law makes parents responsible for the protection of their children. "People seldom think parents will harm or even kill their own kids," Zhang said.

Traditionally, Chinese parents believe the discipline of so-called naughty children by beating is a parental right. Nowadays, more Chinese parents preferred conversation or other means to educate their children.

"A child protection organization could gather information from neighbors or relatives if domestic violence is suspected and take action to stop beating," Zhang said.

"In serious cases, the organization could contact the police and the child could be taken into care," she suggested, expressed her hope "more and more Chinese parents behave more responsibly in educating their children."

(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2007)

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