Boy clings to life after father's abusive attack

SHANGHAI - A teenage boy, who sustained a serious head injury after allegedly being thrown into a cesspool by his father, remains in critical condition in a hospital in Shanghai.

The 13-year-old, from Yunnan province, is in intensive care with multiple intracranial injuries, and doctors at the Shanghai Children's Hospital say there is danger of brain damage.

According to local media, on Feb 23, Teng Dejin angered his father at their home in Shuifu county of Yunnan province by asking him to stop demanding money from his mother who is working in Zhejiang province.

The father is believed to have hit the boy in the head with a stick until he lost consciousness, and then thrown him into a cesspool.

Neighbors said they heard Teng's cries, pulled him from the pool and sent him to a hospital.

The father, Teng Mingcai, has been detained by police.

Teng was unconscious for 20 days.

He was then taken into the care of the social foundation Angel Mom, which arranged for him to receive further medical treatment in Shanghai.

Doctors at the Shanghai Children's Hospital, which is affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, carried out a CT scan on the boy's head and eye socket on Wednesday.

"Preliminary tests showed the boy's skull has suffered serious fractures, and cerebrospinal fluid is leaking," said Doctor Chen Ruoping at the hospital, adding the boy needed a lot more treatment.

Chen said further examinations will be made on Friday, after which treatment will be worked out.

He added that the boy is being treated for infection and to diminish the swelling.

His mother, He Chaoxin, said she will seek legal aid.

So far, the boy's treatment has cost 100,000 yuan (S$20,000), although the hospital has provided financial aid to cover part of the costs. Angel Mom is helping the family collect money from the public.

The alleged child abuse incident is the latest to be brought to light. But the conviction and sentencing of such cases are often difficult due to a lack of laws.

Legal experts, public organisations and other bodies have now called for the legal protection of children living with abusive families.

Last week in Shanghai, a father was detained on suspicion of suffocating his 4-year-old girl because she reportedly would not stop crying.

Earlier this year, a proposal by the Shanghai Women's Federation submitted to the Shanghai People's Congress highlighted that currently only the crime of abusing a family member is specified in the Criminal Law, and the sentence does not exceed two years. There is no specific law against child abuse, it said.

The federation said the legislative body should designate child abuse as a crime and increase the punishment.

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