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November 11, 2016

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Ministry to act on ‘left-behind’ children

CHINA has 9.02 million “left-behind” children, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday following a census carried out this year.

The census, conducted with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Security, began in March.

Left-behind is the term used to refer to children under 16 whose parents are migrant workers or who have one migrant-worker parent and the other incapable of guardianship.

The ministry’s statement included an announcement about a guardianship program, proposing that when left-behind children are found to be living alone their parents must return to care for them or find alternate, reliable guardians.

The program aims to ensure that all left-behind children are under proper care by the end of 2017.

Over 90 percent of left-behind children live in China’s central and western regions. Because they are less developed than the nation’s eastern regions, more of their people are leaving to seek work elsewhere.

Among all the left-behind children, 8.05 million, or 89.3 percent, are in the care of their grandparents with 3.3 percent looked after by other relatives. Some 4 percent have no guardian at all.

“The flow of migrant workers driven by urbanization has affected the family unit and many parents lack a real awareness of their responsibilities,” said Tong Lihua, director of a Beijing-based legal aid organization for teenagers.

In June, 2015, four siblings in southwest China’s Guizhou Province died after drinking pesticide. Three were under 10 years old.

Their mother had left the family and their father had migrated for work. The children had lived without a guardian for about two years.


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