Arab Today, arab today leftbehind children desperate for spring festival homecomings
Last Updated : GMT 02:36:33
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Left-behind children desperate for Spring Festival homecomings

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Left-behind children desperate for Spring Festival homecomings

Beijing - XINHUA

Wei Renhua, a shy fourth-grader in southwest China's rural region of Guangxi, does not know his parents' names. Wei's mum and dad spend just two or three short vacations at home each year, otherwise leaving the boy with his grandparents while they struggle for city work. He is one of many "left-behind" children separated from their parents by the phenomenon of Chinese migrant labor. Like most of them, he is desperately looking forward to the upcoming Spring Festival, a rare opportunity for the family to spend quality time together. This year's familiar reunions taking place across China around Jan. 30may have become the norm, but there is growing concern about the impact that separation is having on family life and emotional well-being. The effect is hinted at in the case of Wei, who says he is shy about speaking to his parents when they have short breaks at home. He feels pressurized by them often asking about his schoolwork in their short long-distance chats by phone. In Wei's Buquanxiang Central School in the poverty-stricken Long'an County, 982 of the 1,386 students on campus are left-behind kids. Wei says he knows his parents love him. When they are at home, they take all the household duties from him, saving him time to play. They also help with his homework. But still he feels he does not know much about them, except that his father likes to play basketball and his mother likes to keep everything clean. Despite the tangled feelings, Wei always wishes his parents could stay longer. About 260 million former residents of China's rural areas 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 and seniors back in their rural homes. Ten-year-old Long Xiaoling never tells her parents about her troubles at school. For example, she is afraid of taking a shower, as the boarding school does not provide hot water, even in winter. Every weekend, the girl helps her grandparents take care of her five-year-old brother and does household chores. She says her mum and dad always bring her new clothes when they return for Spring Festival. But she does not want new clothes. She just wants them back. Zhou Keda, director of the Institute of Sociology with the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, says the problem of left-behind kids has been an unfortunate side-effect of China's urbanization drive. The whole of society, but especially schools and parents, should pay more attention to step up emotional connections with children, and let them feel they are loved and cared for, Zou urges. 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. Jointly released by the China Children and Teenagers' Fund and the Research Center for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise under Beijing Normal University, the report was based on analysis of questionnaires and field studies conducted in Guangdong, Guizhou and Jilin provinces.

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