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年过半百,经历坎坷.少年遇"文革",下乡八载,虽历经磨难,唯斗志不减,农耕间隙自学不辍,终守得云开日出,考进大学.大学毕业后先后经历了中学执教,国企管理,外企高管,最后回归重执教鞭.目前在家精心培养有志掌握英语的中小学生. 我最大的愿望就是看到孩子学有所成,桃李天下.

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我新发表的文章《留守儿童需要温暖》  

2014-01-27 09:31:32|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Left-behind kids deserve warmth

 

Wu Guangqiang

 WITH Chinese New Year days away, hundreds of millions of people are rushing to their homes. Whether near or far, every citizen hopes to be able to return home. After one year’s struggle far away from home, everyone is anxious to return to see their parents, spouse, children, relatives or friends, and share with them their joys and sorrows, and have their body and soul refreshed. 

The warmth of home draws everyone like a magnet, wherever they are. Unfortunately, however, this warmth seems to be a luxury for a certain group of people who need it most: liushou ertong, or left-behind children — whose parents work and live in remote cities to earn money to support their families. 

It is estimated that 262 million migrant workers toil in factories, construction sites and other workplaces in cities and most of the married workers leave their children, about 61 million, behind in rural areas, under the care of relatives, mostly grandparents with little or no education. Left-behind children in China account for 22 percent of the total number of children and 38 percent of all children in rural areas. 

Most left-behind children seldom see their parents; some only see them once a year if they are lucky. Many parents even don’t see their children after several years because of their meager income. Long-term separation takes a heavy toll on both parent and child. 

The parents are tortured with guilt and anxiety caused by the helpless neglect of their children. A recent survey showed that 80 percent of the parents of left-behind children consider themselves unqualified parents, 59 percent find themselves distracted in work and a third feel unhappy. 

Living away from parents can do immeasurable harm to the children. Very often, the caretakers like grandparents do not have the physical ability, financial means nor possess the knowledge needed to take care of these children. This causes these children to suffer developmental issues and makes them vulnerable victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse and accidents. Without proper parental guidance, many children suffer behavioral problems or become depressed which can lead to suicide, and some even get involved in criminal activities. 

Numerous surveys and investigations have revealed the alarming status quo of left-behind children. A survey conducted in 2011 in Henan Province, one of the provinces with the largest number of left-behind children (2.43 million), showed that 23 percent of left-behind children had “little contact” with their parents, 40 percent were afraid of strangers, 17.5 percent had few friends, 12.3 percent ganged up and participated in fights and 57 percent had psychological problems. 

The sense of being neglected will cause permanent mental damage to left-behind children. They tend to be withdrawn or rebellious, have low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. Some resent their parents or even transfer their anger to society by committing offenses. 

The absence of parental protection has left some girls preys to predators. One case involved a 14-year-old left-behind girl raped by a dozen villagers two years ago. These children are also more likely to be victims of accidents, natural or manmade. A few years ago, 12 children including 11 left-behind children drowned in a flood in Lianyuan City, Hunan Province. 

Left-behind children are also known as “institutional orphans,” as they are miserable products of China’s current urban and rural social divide. The final solution to the issue depends on comprehensive economic and social reforms as well as constant economic growth, which will take a long time. 

But for now there is still a lot that can be done to pass on warmth to these children. When all members of our society pitch in, such warmth can reach them, just as shown in the Warm Winter Program. The program, jointly sponsored by Chongqing Morning News and Air China, will offer 50 free air tickets to the parents of 25 left-behind children at a school in Chongqing so that they may come home to meet their children in the coming Spring Festival. 

A working panel involving 14 departments under the State Council has been set up to handle the issue. The Zhejiang Provincial Education Department has issued a guideline document on caring for left-behind children containing some constructive measures. When all the measures are fully implemented, it will make a difference.

 

(The author is an English tutor and a freelance writer.)

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