Shanxi province plans to improve the lives of left-behind children by enhancing care services in rural areas.
Under a new guideline, parents should prioritize the nurturing and education of their children, and local government workers should guide parents to make children's interests a priority when making decisions.
Training for parents and guardians should be provided to ensure that left-behind children receive proper care.
The guideline also encourages parents to take children with them to cities, or to have one parent stay at home. If both parents leave home, guardians must be appointed, as children under 16 years of age cannot be left alone.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Shanxi has about 166,800 left-behind children scattered in rural areas.
The province aims to establish a network to provide care for left-behind children by 2020.
About 61 million children are left behind nationally, according to the All China Women's Federation in 2013.
In June 2015, four siblings from 5 to 13 years of age in Bijie, Guizhou province, committed suicide by drinking farm chemicals.
An investigation found that they suffered from severe mental problems, which may have been related to their parents' absence.
The tragedy shocked the country and exposed the plight of those children.
"It is human nature for parents to raise their children. Some parents lack a sense of obligation for guardianship and leave young children at home alone, or rarely visit their children, or don't communicate with them, which severely affects their development," said Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs.
Guan Xinping, a professor at the Institute of Social Development and Administration at Nankai University in Tianjin, said care and protective services for left-behind children should be combined with rural social welfare and economic development.
"Solving the problem of left-behind children should be linked to the protection of migrant workers' rights and interests in urban areas," he said.
"Only when city authorities allow migrant workers to become permanent urban residents and enjoy all social welfare services can the problems of left-behind children be truly solved," he said.
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