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    Chinese Courts to Parents: Talk to Your Kids Once in a While

    Chinese courts have issued the first rulings under the country’s new “family education” law.

    Chinese courts are issuing the country’s first rulings under a law that makes parents responsible for their children’s behavior after it came into effect Jan. 1.

    A court in the eastern province of Jiangxi issued the province’s first “family education order” on Saturday, a district court in the provincial capital of Nanchang announced.

    In a news release, the court said the father, who had been sued to court by his ex-wife for failing to pay child support for six years, received the order on Thursday. In addition to paying an overdue 140,000 yuan ($21,980), the father was ordered to stay in close contact with the two sons, their mother, and their teachers. “He should communicate with them at least twice a week,” the court wrote — once with the children and once with their mother or teachers.

    It is one of three family education orders issued in the country since the “Law on Family Education Promotion” came into effect on Jan. 1. The law, passed in October 2021, makes parents responsible for educating their children and authorizes courts to ensure that they do.

    The law gives courts the power to punish parents for failing to educate their children and order them to do so when parenting issues arise in other court proceedings.

    On the day of the law’s implementation, the father of a 16-year-old convicted of rape in the eastern province of Jiangsu was ordered to attend lectures on family education.

    In the central province of Hunan, after a man sued his ex-wife for custody of their daughter, a local court found that she had been absent from her 7-year-old child’s life, that the girl had missed school, and that she had lived with a nanny for more than a year.

    The court ordered the woman to pay more attention to the physical, mental, and emotional needs of her child.

    “She should communicate at least once a week with the girl’s teachers and understand in detail her daughter’s life conditions,” the order said, adding that if she fails to do so, the court will reprimand, fine, or jail her.

    Such orders expire after one year by default, but can be extended if the court finds that parents have not resolved the problems.

    Zheng Ziyin, deputy director of the All China Lawyers Associations’ minor protection committee, told Sixth Tone that childrearing is no longer merely “a family matter.” “It has been elevated to a ‘national matter,’” he said.

    The lawyer said court-ordered classes will help parents who mistreat their children through ignorance.

    “Through these orders, parents are guided to adjust their family education methods and approaches. At the same time, the orders warn the parents of the legal consequences if they fail to fulfill their duties,” he said.

    Zheng added that the law will get the state more involved in helping parents, but many parents do not understand their responsibilities under the law.

    Editor: David Cohen.

    (Header image: People Visual)