18-year-old Li Ao has died after staying at an internet addiction boot camp for just two days.
The young man’s mother, Mrs Liu, has explained that he’d developed a severe internet addiction, which neither she or her husband were equipped to deal with.
They made the decision to send Li Ao to the Positive Energy Education Centre based in Fuyang City, which promises to treat children and young people using a combination of ‘psychological counselling and physical training’.
However, only two days after they dropped their son off at the centre, Mr and Mrs Liu were told he had been taken urgently to hospital. It was here where he died, from as of yet unexplained causes.
Doctors informed the Liu family the teenager had suffered over 20 external injuries and several internal injuries, including internal bleeding. It’s believed Li Ao’s injuries were sustained during his brief stay at the centre.
Speaking with Chinese News Outlet Anhui Shangbao, Mrs Liu made the following devastating statement:
My son’s body was completely covered with scars, from top to toe… When I sent my son to the centre he was still fine, how could he have died within 48 hours?
Mrs Liu had previously been assured The Positive Energy Education Centre only used ‘gentle’ treatment methods. Four members of the centre’s teaching staff as well as the director are now being held in custody.
— Shanghaiist.com (@shanghaiist) August 15, 2017
This incident has sparked fresh outrage over the harsh conditions found at the growing number of internet addiction camps found in China. Some of these camp reportedly use cruel methods such as corporal punishment and electroshock therapy.
The documentary Web Junkie looks at the treatments used within these controversial centres:
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Only last year, a 16-year-old girl murdered her own mother after returning from an internet addiction camp, by holding her captive and starving her to death. The murder was reportedly in revenge for the beatings and abuse she endured while staying at the camp.
Despite such harrowing incidents, internet addiction camps still remain a popular choice for many families across China…
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.