Left-behind children in China

I saw this picture the other day. It struck me.


The picture was a candidate in a photography competition featuring “poverty”. In the photo, the little girl draws her mother on the door and writes “mum accompanies me to school.” Sadly, the face of the “mum” is empty. Maybe she hasn’t seen her mother for quite some time, and doesn’t even remember what she looks like.

Although the feeling might be unfamiliar to many of us, it is typical for the 50,000,000 left-behind children below 14 years old in China. The term “left-behind children” refers to the children who have no parents beside. Their parents are migrant workers in the cities, and come back at most once or twice a year.

Left-behind children suffer a lot psychological problems. They are at a stage where they need guidance about life and values, but their parents are not by their side. They may have their grandparents, but the older generation often have difficulty communicating with them. In a survey by Professor Ye Jingzhong at Chinese Agriculture University, it is suggested that about 30% of the left-behind children have the habit of telling lies. Nearly half of the children perform poorly at school.

The left-behind children are also subject to more risks and dangers. Sexual assaults are not uncommon. Recently, a couple of murders happened in family due to conflicts between generations.

Some scholars argue that the left-behind children are an essential result of the Chinese economic transformation. The big regional gap draws migrant workers from rural areas, but they cannot afford to settle down in the city.

To solve the problem, the hukou system needs to be improved. So does the welfare system for the children. Moreover, it is also necessary for people to realize how important the problem is and to offer help towards left-behind children.

There’s a good Chinese website on this issue.

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