Parents of Left-Behind Children Face Prosecution
According to an official survey on the migrant population in China in 2016 released in mid-October by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, around sixty-one million children—more than a third of whom are younger than seventeen—currently live in the Chinese countryside without the daily care of their parents, who have migrated to other areas for work. These ‘left behind children’ are a serious social problem in China. Earlier this year, Zhang Dandan a professor at Peking University, released the result of a survey of one thousand two hundred criminals in prison: about seventeen per cent of them had been ‘left behind children’. Tragedies are common. Earlier this year, three children, who had been left in the care of their grandmother by their migrant parents, drowned in a pond near their home village outside of Nanchang, Jiangxi province. There have also been some instances of suicide. In January 2014, a nine-year-old child hanged himself in the house of his grandparents in Huayang, Anhui province, after learning from his grandmother that his mother, a migrant worker, was not going to come home for the holidays. In June 2015, in a village in Bijie, Guizhou province, a thirteenyear-old boy and his three younger sisters killed themselves after having been left alone for months by their migrant parents. To prevent such tragedies, in February 2016, the State Council ordered local governments to establish a database of these children and issued guidelines to improve the physical and psychological health of such children. In November 2016, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, along with the police, the judicial departments, and the Ministry of Education announced a clampdown on parents who leave their children behind. Parents who fail to provide their children with proper parental care for six months or longer can now lose their custodial rights at the request of their relatives, village officials, or civil-affairs authorities.