China to Launch Survey on Rural Left-behind Children

April 21, 2016
By Guan XinpingEditor: Rong Chen
China to Launch Survey on Rural Left-behind Children
Ying Chunxi, who lives with his 80-year-old grandmother in the Wumeng area of Guizhou, has to do the cooking himself and go up the mountain to collect plants every day. [Xinhua]


The ministries of Civil Affairs, Education and Public Security will jointly start a survey on the general situation of the left-behind children in China's rural areas. After the launch of reform and opening up, many rural residents have left their homes to work in cities, leaving their underage children in the care of grandparents or to fend for themselves.

Children separated from their parents during their formative years face many problems in terms of education, security and mental health. Some left-behind children have even committed suicide or have been sexually abused. The problem of the left-behind children should be seen as part of the greater problem of migrant workers in China.

Realizing the gravity of the problem, the central and local authorities have taken measures to safeguard migrant workers' basic rights and to provide protection for left-behind children. For example, the Third and Fifth Plenums of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China announced measures to improve the care services for the left-behind children, women and senior citizens in rural areas. And the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) has made the protection of the left-behind children in rural areas a basic public service item. And in February, the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guideline for improving care services for the left-behind children.

But the national survey announced by the three ministries is the first substantive step to comprehensively carry out the care and protection work for the left-behind children.

Providing proper care and protection for the left-behind children is a large-scale and long-term endeavor that requires a huge amount of resources. To effectively implement such a project, the authorities should make scientific planning and arrangements, and get a clear idea about the actual situations that the left-behind children live in.

The population of the left-behind children in China is huge. They are scattered across the country. True, some research organizations have done some sample surveys of the left-behind children in the past. But they have only drawn deductive conclusions without offering a clear picture of the specific situations in which the left-behind children live.

In this regard, the three ministries' nationwide survey will not only present a clear picture of the real situations the left-behind children have to live in different regions, but can also reveal their specific individual conditions. The survey could thus offer the basis for making decisions both at the national and local levels.

Although it is not difficult to conduct a national survey on the left-behind children, local authorities can ensure the results are accurate by helping the process with their inputs and efficient work. And after the completion of the general survey, the central and local authorities should analyze the actual difficulties and needs of the left-behind children and devise specific action plans to help them, including targeted services for key groups and key areas, setting up mechanisms and regulations, investing resources and evaluating the processes based on actual situations.

One of the most important steps would be to establish a specific working system that enables social workers to play their role in the process, and providing the necessary funds for this work.

Moreover, care and protection services for the left-behind children work should be combined with the rural social welfare and rural social and economic development. Also, solving the left-behind children problem should be linked to the protection of migrant workers' rights and interests in urban areas.

Only when city authorities allow migrant workers to become permanent urban residents and enjoy all social welfare services can left-behind children's problems be truly solved.

(Source: China Daily)

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