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In most cases, those children are taken care of by their relatives (usually by grandparents) and family friends who also live in the same rural regions. They are considered left-behind because they are left in rural regions, where social infrastructures are not as adequate as those in urban regions.
Meanwhile, it is also because many of them lack sufficient parental care (including both physical and mental care), as they can seldom see their parents, who have to stay in urban areas for work throughout the year. Under these circumstances, many left-behind children experience development problems such as emotional insecurity.
According to the 6th Population Census in 2010, there are approximately 61 million left-behind children in China, that is 21.88% of children in China. These children are not only from the economically underdeveloped central-west area, but also hail from economically developed cities like Jiangsu, Guangdong and Shandong.
The south-western and north-western parts of China are more severely affected than the central or eastern parts. However, the common phenomenon for these areas is that the mother in the family with a female child (under the one-child policy in the past, family were allowed to have one child only, either male or female) tend to work in other cities and leave the child behind.
Protect the Vulnerable
The traditional Chinese patriarchy, that is the prevalence towards male children might be the reason why mothers tend to leave girls at home as left-behind children, but not boys. Mothers may face pressure from extended family or even divorce due to having female children. As a result, some of them are forced to leave the child behind and work away from home.
60% of left-behind children do not know the occupation of their parents.
30% of them can only meet parents once or twice a year, while 15% of them cannot meet parents once a year.
Nearly 25%, or 15 million children, receive contact from their parent less than 4 times a year.
Most of the left-behind children receive free education from the government in their hometown. They perform similarly to normal children on an academic basis. Teachers are not aware of which kids are the left-behind children in the classroom. They cannot tell how many students are left-behind children and tend to under-estimate their number.
Safety problems and mental health are the most concerning issues with left-behind children. People nowadays generally treat left-behind children as problematic. According to small-scale research, 37% of left-behind children aged 14–16 thought of committing suicide, 12% once planned to commit suicide and 6.3% once attempted to commit suicide but failed. Children have more than a 60% chance of considering suicide when either father or mother leave home for work.
Help us ensure the lost children of China have access to the resources they need to live happy and productive lives.