Courts get green light to offer families education to better protect children
Chinese courts should educate divorcing parents to ensure their underage children can obtain care and support from their families, according to a new guideline.
The 24-article guideline on family education was issued by the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, and the All-China Women's Federation on Tuesday, aiming to offer stronger protection for children by urging their parents or guardians to fulfill their duties.
If juvenile delinquency or misconduct by children's guardians is discovered, courts will also be allowed to educate the family, said the guideline, which will take effect on Thursday.
The new legal document is part of efforts to implement the Family Education Promotion Law, which came into effect on Jan 1 last year and requires courts to educate parents or guardians during case handling if it is found that they behaved improperly.
To meet the requirement, many courts have issued "family education orders" to deal with cases involving juveniles to admonish the minors' guardians and urge them to fulfill their duties, Duan Nonggen, head of the top court's Research Office, told a news conference on Tuesday.
Citing data showing that 10,308 such orders were issued last year, he revealed that Chinese courts also established 838 institutes on their own or with other departments to promote family education over the past year.
In one case, the Tianxin District People's Court in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, ordered a divorced mother to live with her 8-year-old daughter, who had been forced to live with a nanny. It was the first ruling based on the law.
The district court also issued a family education order requiring the mother to take the girl to her home and live with her, and asking her to contact the girl's teacher at least once a week to keep up with her schooling. It also added that the mother could be admonished, fined or detained if she disobeys the order.
Duan said such family education orders have played a role in child protection, but confirming "in what cases judges could issue the orders and how to issue them needed to be standardized and regulated", which is why the guideline was released.
The guideline states that family education can be offered through various means including online courses or psychological counseling, clarifying that it can be provided at any stage of case handling, such as during trials or after a ruling is announced.
While requiring courts to explain why they issued family education orders, the guideline stipulated that the time, place and frequency of such education should also be specified in the orders.
If parents or guardians do not agree with the orders, they will be allowed to apply for a review within five days, it said.
In addition, the guideline calls for courts and women's federations to collaborate with government departments and social organizations to carry out more research on family education, encouraging them to establish working stations and set up a special team to focus on the education.