Migrant parents who fail to provide care for their children back home face punishment
Migrant worker parents who leave children behind in their hometowns without giving themregular attention or adequate care might face punishment in accordance with a newguideline.
The guideline on the protection of left-behind children, signed by Premier Li Keqiang andreleased this month, defines the responsibilities of parents and government, and recognizesthe parents as bearing the primary responsibility in the care of their children.
"Some irresponsible parents give birth to children, but leave them behind uncared for,seriously harming their physical and mental health," Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Zou Mingsaid on Friday at a State Council Information Office media briefing.
"Parents can be punished accordingly if the children are confirmed to have been severelyharmed by their indifference," Zou warned.
The parents' custody of the children might be revoked, under the guideline.
A 2015 survey conducted by Shangxuelushang, an NGO that helps left-behind children, saidabout 15 percent of them reported having no physical contact with their parents during thecourse of a calendar year.
Four percent received just one phone call a year from parents, it said.
"The psychological impact can be enormous, and that can lead to poor school performanceand extreme behavior among the children, such as suicide," said Tong Lihua, head of BeijingChildren's Legal Aid and Research Center.
In June, four siblings aged 5 to 13 years who had been left behind in Bijie, Guizhouprovince, committed suicide by drinking pesticide at home.
Zou urged parents to take their children with them when they seekemployment in cities or "at least, one parent should stay behind athome to take care of them."
In addition, the guideline says that society and government alsohave a role in caring for such children.
Local governments and village committees must keep themselveswell-informed about the situation of left-behind children within theirjurisdiction and ensure that they are properly taken care of, theguideline stipulates.
Education authorities and schools have an obligation to help themstudy and live safely, it says.
Wang Dinghua, the primary education chief at the Education Ministry, said the ministry willintroduce more measures to ensure that migrant children can receive schooling where theirparents work.
A 2010 National Census showed that nearly 36 million children under the age of 18 traveledwith their migrant worker parents for employment.