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February 11, 2011

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'Few child beggars have been abducted'

THE Ministry of Public Security said yesterday that children abducted by human traffickers and sent to beg on the streets formed only a small percentage of child beggars. In most cases, children were taken to beg along with their parents or relatives.

The ministry urged police authorities across the country to closely cooperate with civil affairs, urban management and health departments in apprehending people who force children to become beggars.

More than 9,300 kidnapped children in China have been rescued since April 2009, after a nationwide campaign was launched to crack down on human trafficking, the ministry said.

The ministry encouraged the involvement of the public in providing clues to help police rescue minors, especially those being abused and forced to beg on the streets.

Meanwhile, a legal expert said yesterday that most children begging in Shanghai have been put on the streets by their own families or even rented out to "professional" beggars.

Trace children

A microblog launched last month by Yu Jianrong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, asks the public to photograph child beggars and post their pictures online so parents can trace abducted children.

Six children abducted by human traffickers have been rescued as a result of the online campaign.

But Yao Jianlong, a youth protection lawmaker and deputy director of the Changning District Prosecutors' Office, said this impression was at odds with the picture on the ground.

Most children begging in Shanghai have been put on the streets by their own families or even rented out to "professional" beggars, said Yao.

"The reality isn't like what the Internet campaign describes, saying that most of the children are abducted," Yao said.

"The campaign is too emotional."

Indeed, many impoverished parents welcomed the opportunity to "rent" their offspring to beggars, as they could earn money and have people "supervise" their children at the same time.

Rent out offspring

"For these poverty-stricken people, economic profits outweigh dignity and the health of their children," Yao said.

However, it is more common in the city for beggars to take their own children to beg, he added.

Shanghai Metro police agreed with Yao's claims, reporting that since the online campaign began they had not found any child beggars who were abducted.

Detained children would call their family, and police would have to release them to relatives, police said.

Shanghai police have set up a hotline and email address to take reports on suspected child abductions.

Officers are asking the public to contact them, instead of photographing child beggars for microblogs.

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau asks anyone with suspicions about children being abducted to call 2202-8515 or email The service is only available in Chinese.


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