A Chinese teenager has died days after he was sent to an internet addiction treatment centre, reigniting criticism of these controversial institutions. The 18-year-old had allegedly sustained multiple injuries, and the centre’s director and staff members have been held by police, according to reports. The incident took place earlier this month in eastern Anhui province. China has seen a proliferation in so-called “boot camps” aimed at treating internet and gaming addictions. Some are known for their military-style discipline and have been criticized for overly harsh practices. In the latest incident in Anhui, the teenager’s mother, surnamed Liu, said her son had developed a serious internet addiction which she and her husband were unable to help. The parents then decided to send their son to a centre in Fuyang city which touted to use a combination of “psychological counseling and physical training” to treat children for their internet addictions, reported the Anhui Shangbao newspaper. But the parents said they were told by doctors who examined their son’s body that he had sustained more than 20 external injuries, as well as several internal injuries. They were allowed to see his body in the mortuary. “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?” Ms Liu was quoted as saying in Anhui Shangbao. State broadcaster CCTV said the centre’s director and four teaching staff have been held by police, and authorities have shut down the centre while investigations are ongoing.

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