40 percent of left-behind children see parents at most twice a year
More than 40 percent of left-behind children in China meet their parents no more than twice a year, according to a white book on the psychological conditions of leftbehind children.
The white book was issued on Tuesday by On the Road to School, a Beijing-based NGO, and a research team from Beijing Normal University. It was based on 11,126 valid questionnaires from rural children from Grades 3 to 8 in 17 provincial-level areas nationwide in the first half of the year.
Only 37 percent of surveyed children had both parents working in their hometown. Twenty-seven percent had one parent working outside their hometown, while the remaining 36 percent were considered leftbehind children who did not have either parent around as their guardian.
About 40 percent of left-behind children didn’t see their parents more than two times a year, the white book said, compared with nearly 45 percent in 2015.
“That’s still a big proportion,” said Li Yifei, a professor at Beijing Normal University who led the research. “It’s estimated there are six million left-behind children in China and they need a lot of care.”
According to the white book, left-behind children tended to enter a rebellious phase in Grade 5, one or two years earlier than children in standard families.
“Children tend to study or imitate the behaviors of people close to them, but they are mostly not familiar with their parents,” Li said.
Liu Xinyu, chairman of On the Road to School, said “the emotion gap between the two generations resulting from long-term separation cannot be easily bridged.”
The report called for more communication between parents and left-behind children. Many of the parents work in the construction industry in big cities, so some construction companies have also tried to contribute to improving that communication.
Wu Guohui, a public relations officer at China Construction Second Engineering Bureau, said, “Thousands of parents of left-behind children work in our company and we plan to invite some of their children to witness their work on site.”
Wu said he thought that would help children to understand their parents’ hardship and make them closer.
Support from schools is also needed. “Children who lack parental company are often not confident in handling things and getting on well with others,” Li said. “So, schools can provide more platforms for them to prove and show themselves.”
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