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Reform school closures pile on woes for troubled youth

06-21-2010 15:04 BJT

BEIJING, June 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Beijing has six reform schools which can accommodate around 700 students. However, the People's Procuratorate of Haidian district alone dealt with 1,567 cases of juvenile delinquency during the past five years.

The Fengtai Reform School has only 30 students, said Liu Yan, deputy secretary of the association of reform schools.

Nationwide, seven reform schools have closed in the past year because of a shortage of students and funding, even at a time when many educators are calling for more support for the education of undisciplined children.

There were 74 reform schools in the country last year; now there are 67. Among those, only 58 schools are actively recruiting and cultivating students. The number of reform school peaked at 82 in 2003, according to the Association of Reform Schools Affiliated with the Chinese Society of Education.

Liu blamed stereotypes against the concept and a lack of support from educational authorities for the unpopularity of reform schools.

Many parents are scared when educational authorities suggest their troubled children be enrolled in reform schools, Liu said. They believe if their children hang out with other "bad children", they will become worse.

"But children with behavior and study problems are mostly the result of psychological issues," she said, and standard school courses don't accommodate undisciplined children.

She said reform school candidates often display violent tendencies, difficulties in studying and lack of confidence. Teachers at standard schools are motivated by their schools' score-driven system and lack time to focus on any problem students.

Moreover, the challenged students can't catch up with the progressively more difficult work and schedules as they enter higher grades.

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