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'Tiger Mom' Gets 6 Month Sentence For Whipping Son, 9

| by Nik Bonopartis

A "tiger mom" in China has been declawed, at least temporarily.

A Chinese court upheld a six-month prison term on Nov. 20 for a mother who beat her foster son because he didn't finish his homework, China's Xinhua news agency reported. The case drew international attention after photos of the 9-year-old boy's injuries went viral on social media, reports Shanghaiist. The graphic photos show dozens of raw welts across the child's back and arms from the intense whipping.

The photos were first uploaded to Weibo, a Chinese social media platform that's been called China's version of Twitter.

"At the age of six, the boy was legally adopted by his foster parents in Nanjing. The abusive conduct was found out by the boy's teachers last year, but at the time the teachers thought it might have been an accident, so it didn't get publicized," the Weibo user wrote in April after uploading the photos.

The boy, who wasn't identified in Chinese media, grew up in rural Anhui Province. He was legally adopted by his aunt with the blessing of his parents, who believed he would receive a better education in Nanjing.

The ruling was closely watched in China, where many parents use physical punishment as a "motivational aid," Xinhua said. Police told the Chinese news agency that the mother, identified only by the mononym Li, confessed to beating her adopted son.

"I’m not a bad mother. I was just trying to discipline my child,” Li said during the trial in September, according to Xinhua.

Her adopted son and the boy's biological parents also asked for leniency, saying Li had acted inappropriately but loved the victim. Prosecutors defended the sentence, Xinhua said, and the judge told Li that the sentence was lenient in light of "mitigating factors" like the adopted boy's forgiveness, noted The Shenzhen Daily.

Legal experts who watched the trial said it could have implications for similar cases in China. Earlier this year, the Shanghaiist reported a mother in Guangdong province had forced her elementary school-age son to kneel naked in the street and beg for "compensation fees" as punishment for fighting with a classmate. 

The term "tiger mom" is usually applied to strict Chinese mothers who lean on their children to spur success in academics, competitive sports and other pursuits.

Sources: Xinhua via Shenzhen Daily, The Shanghaiist / Photo source: Weibo via The Shanghaiist