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China’s left-behind children

China’s left-behind children

More than 60 million Chinese children are considered left-behind.  

Tens of millions of parents have left their children behind in their rural villages while they work in China’s cities.  Some children are placed in the care of relatives or family friends.  Others are left to fend for themselves.

Care for the left-behind

Left-behind children often lack proper care and supervision.  That has led to tragic consequences.  In 2015 four abandoned children in southwest China's Guizhou Province committed suicide.

The central government has instituted guidelines for local governments and village committees to follow in order to ensure left-behind children are properly cared for.  Governmental agencies are now allowed to contract with charities and other agencies to provide professional services.  Still to be established is a system of reporting, intervention, and assessment.  School have been given an obligation to help left-behind children succeed in their studies and to live in safely. 

Parental responsibility

The guidelines also stress that it is the parents' primary responsibility to provide for their children.  A system has been designed that will help left-behind children talk with their parents by video-chat or phone.  Migrant workers who can take their children with them are expected to do so.  If that is not possible, one parent is expected to stay home with their children. Parents who cannot meet this requirement must appoint a responsible guardian.  A plan is in place to gradually decrease the number of left-behind children.

A census has begun to document the number of left-behind children.  It will also survey left-behind women and the elderly in rural China.  Both segments of the population rely on male bread-winners for support.