STORY HIGHLIGHTS


"Left-behind children" pains China

CNC
Added On January 28, 2014

In China, about 260 million farmers have become migrant workers in cities. Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, is often the only chance in a year for them to reunite with their kids in their rural homes.
 
For these children, they always wish their parents could stay longer.
 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HUANG YUHE, "Left-behind" child:
HUANG JIANHONG: "Dad and mom will come back together, ok?"
HUANG YUHE: "Ok."
HUANG JIANHONG: "Dad is now very busy working. You should listen to your grandma and teacher."
HUANG YUHE: "I will."
 
11-year-old Huang Yuhe, a sixth-grader, lives in Nansong Village, Xinghua City, east China's Jiangsu Province. Her parents went to work outside the village. These short long-distance chats by phone are the only way to link her and her parents.
 
But Huang said more often than not, she has nothing to talk with her parents. For her, parents are like the most familiar strangers.
 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HUANG YUHE, "Left-behind" child:
"I want to ask him whether he is in good health, tell him not to work too much and take care of himself. But I was too shy to say that."
 
Huang said her parents were working in a big city and would send money back. Every time she received new clothes from her parents and put them on, she felt their deep love for her.
 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HUANG YUHE, "Left-behind" child:
"Their company is definitely more significant. My mom always sent food and clothes back to me. But what I need more is their love. In the past ten years, they seldom come back, sometimes just once a year, during the Spring Festival. I quite understand, but still, I hope they could spend more time with me."
 
Huang is one of China's vast number of "left-behind" migrant children, who remain in rural homes while their parents go to work in cities to earn a living. The children are usually taken care of by their grandparents or other relatives.
 
The latest statistics show the number of China's "left-behind" children has reached more than 60 million.
 
And for many of them, the lack of parental love and care has left a sense of helplessness and abandonment.
 
According to an All-China Women's Federation report in May, problems facing "left-behind" and migrant children, including a lack of family closeness, security, protection and educational opportunities, have not been resolved. Problems keep emerging.
 
An NGO report on China's left-behind children released in September 2013 showed that children of migrant workers are more likely to become victims of sexual assault.
 
The report found left-behind girls are most vulnerable to sexual offences in less-developed regions, and children of migrant workers also face higher chances of assault in developed areas.