Internet addiction centers suck – at best, they haven’t proven to be effective and at worst… well, there’s the whole torture, beatings and “accidental deaths” thing to contend with. So it’s no wonder that eight teens sentenced to one of these “clinics” would try to escape. Unfortunately, their daring plan only worked until they were caught by the police and handed over to their parents, who promptly put them back in the centers. Alas.
Here’s the full story, translated from the Yangtse Evening News, about the eight kids in Jiangsu who were soooo close to getting out of their own personal hell. Apparently another six had escaped also, but their whereabouts are currently unknown:
In the early morning of June 4, the Xuyi County Public Security Bureau suddenly got a call from a taxi driver warning that there were several young people possibly involved in a pyramid scheme. Police rushed to the scene and found eight children dressed in camouflage.
The two taxi drivers who had reported them said they had come from Huai’an City and taken a taxi to Xuyi, and now they had no money to pay the taxi fare; they suspected the kids were up to no good. But after questioning, the police were surprised to discover that these eight people had all fled from the same Huai’an-based addiction treatment center. They said they had fled in the night, and had even tied up their night instructor.
A “Premeditated” Escape
A few days before fleeing, they had taken rope tying training
Under police questioning, the kids soon spilled the beans, explaining in detail their daring escape plan. These kids came from various different places – Jurong, Baoying, and Zhejiang’s Yueqing. The oldest was 22, the youngest was 14 – all were sent by their parents to quit “the internet.” But these boys soon found that the internet camp was terribly tough, and plotted their flight.
On the night of June 3, several of them found an opportunity. They surrounded a night instructor and launched their “attack.” First they rolled him up in a bed quilt and then used rope to truss him up. The panicked instructor, not sure what the kids had in mind, anxiously began crying for help. Hearing the yells of the instructor and afraid that their escape plan would be brought to light, one of the kids punched him – though not hard, and saying “sorry” while he punched.
This was obviously a carefully planned escape. One student said that before the incident, he had seen several of them practicing tying ropes, only to realize it was preparations for tying up instructors when he witnessed their escape. But after they successfully outfitted the instructor in his new “uniform”, they even procured a door key, and that student decided to run with them too. According to police, that night, a total of 14 individuals fled the center.
A “forced” battle
Meals were terrible, instructors were tough and life was too dull
According to the escapees, they were all either middle school or high school students that, because they had spent too much time online, were sent to the camp by their parents. Usually the school charges 18000RMB for half a year of physical therapy for addiction counseling. Many had only been in the school for two ro three months, everyday they would have physical education, camp and field training, English conversation class, counseling class, calligraphy, “obedience” learning etc. If they aren’t obedient, instructors will smack their hands with a ruler. Activities outside classes usually involve playing ball. Every day there’s three instructors. In the morning, they eat mantou and porridge. In the evening, they generally eat one meat dish, one veggie dish and a cabbage soup.
There’s not much to say about their lives there, the students generally just couldn’t stand the school’s monotonous environment and high-intensity training. The only psychological counselor they liked had taken a vacation. They said, they are definitely not the “internet addicts” their parents and teachers think they are, it’s just that they were unhappy with their parents’ methods and nagging, and deliberately went online to have fun. There wasn’t much outside of the internet that was interesting enough to do.
After escaping from the center, the 14 participants followed their leader, Fei Xiang (pseudonym). Because their leader was from Xuyi, they hopped on three different taxis and drove to the city. Once they got to Xuyi, it was already morning. One group of people became separated, and currently their location is unknown. Since they had no way to pay the cab fare, they could only wander the streets. The taxi drivers felt something was up and contacted the police.
A “Very Choiceless” Situation
Kids want to go home, parents want to send them back to the “internet addiction” center
In the morning of June 4, the mothers of one of the students, Weng Wei, rushed to Xu City and took her child away. She had paid a 700RMB fee to fight any charges, and had offered 200RMB of pocket money to the other kids. The families of the seven kids from Yang Mu, Jiangyin, Yangzhou, Suzhou and Zhejiang Province, also anxiously called the police.
In the afternoon of June 4, student Wang Zhengya’s grandfather came to the station, and said he wouldn’t bring his grandson home since it was the second time this “failure” of a grandson had entered the addiction clinic. The grandson usually is hell bent on playing online games, and has no heart for studying. Later, Yao Bing’s mother rushed to the police station weeping, saying her kid only loved reading online novels and had stayed online once for 28 hours straight; grades that had used to be high plummeted, and any other methods of pursuasion had proved useless. Looking at his mother wiping her eyes on her sleeves from the doorframe, Yao Bing bowed his head.
Almost every child had their own story, every family had their own sad tale. Just about half of the seven students come from single-parent families. One person’s mother had, after her husband died in a traffic accident, began working overtime herself at a clothing factory. In order to get her child to quit the internet, she had taken out three years worth of savings for the application fee.
That same afternoon, three representatives of the addiction treatment center also rushed to the police station. One rep said the school had found out about the escape at around 11pm and hadn’t slept the whole night. The night instructor had been tied up and sported a beaten, bloody nose, but they were more worried about parents coming to get their kids. Though the school organizes several training activities, they are all for the health of the students. The school will also sometimes organize fun activities, let them play ball.
When the school said it would take the children back, some families agreed, but these kids were all against it – the wails of the kids and their parents filled the police station. After a meeting with the parents and the school, everybody agreed that the school and the police would handle getting the students back to the center.