According to the Global Times, a new report reveals that one-third of China’s rural students are ““left-behind children.” The term, as defined by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), refers to “rural children under the age of 16 whose parents are migrant workers, or who have one migrant-worker parent with the other incapable of guardianship.”
The report from On the Road to School, an NGO working to help these underprivileged children, states that nearly 60% of the kids living in rural settings see their parents less than twice a year. This data comes from a survey of approximately 15,000 rural kids in 17 different provinces. Even more shocking, the report estimated that upwards of 10 million young students across the country could be living without either of their parents. To put things in perspective, 8% of the children surveyed were so disconnected from the care and attention of their guardians that they claimed their parent’s death had no effect on them.
This isn’t the first time a group has tried to produce accurate statistics about the well-being of China’s most vulnerable population. The reported number of children left in this condition varies drastically, with estimates falling anywhere between 9 to 60 million. While it is impossible to know exactly how many children have been left to fend for themselves out in the Chinese countryside, it is obvious that this is a serious issue.
Zhao Hui, a lawyer and director of the Beijing Bar Association Committee on Child Protection, stated the somewhat obvious: “Being left behind could affect the children psychologically.”
It is no surprise that this lonely environment negatively affects children’s development, and some teachers have noted that their pupils appear “dissatisfied” with their parents. The MCA however is apparently working to amend this situation. In the past, efforts have been made to enforce laws which require parents to look after their children. But that hasn’t stopped many adults from leaving for work in urban centers, or simply abandoning their children altogether.
The MCA hopes that by the end of 2017, all of these disenfranchised children will receive guardians of some sort, either from relatives, foster homes or their biological parents.
Earlier this week, a controversial video went viral on the Chinese internet showing one organization that has given these “left-behind” kids a home, while training them to be MMA fighters.
By Emma Abrams
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