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CHINA SUFFERS NEW PLAGUE: TYRANNY OF THE `ONLY CHILD'

China's wave of spoiled only children has turned into a plague of teenage misfits who tyrannize the household and even beat their parents, a psychiatrist said Saturday.

The 16-year-old policy of one child per family to control population growth among China's 1.2 billion people has produced a strong-willed generation dubbed "the little emperors."After months of complaints about abusive youngsters at the Psychiatric and Health Research Institute of Beijing Medical University, experts called for greater attention to the behavioral fallout of children without siblings.

"The abnormal and unreasonable conduct of these little emperors is alarming," the official Health Daily said. "Single-child education should command the attention of the entire society."

Teachers have complained for years of classes packed with precocious but spoiled children, but the blunt report was one of the most extensive on the impact of the family planning strategy as the youngsters approach adulthood.

The findings cited numerous cases of parents catering to their sole child, with the spoiling heightened by adoring grandparents. Many of the violent adolescents were top students, some even winning prizes in nationwide academic competitions.

A 17-year-old boy beat his mother so badly she was covered with cuts and bruises. "His pitiful father could only kneel to the ground and beg for mercy," the institute's report said.

When a 16-year-old boy was abruptly wakened in the morning by the sound of his father washing, he grabbed a bookend and smashed it against the man's head, fracturing his skull.

A mother switched off the television set her son was still watching at midnight, and "the boy flew into a rage, beating her up while yelling, 'How dare you.'

"The parents are at a loss over what to do with youngsters riding roughshod over their families," the report said.

Regardless of the severity or frequency of the violence, only a few parents feared their offspring were psychologically ill and felt the need to consult regularly with an expert.

The psychologists and educators said most of the boys and girls appeared unrepentant, saying violence was the only way to keep parents from "meddling in their affairs."