Liz Carter at Tea Leaf Nation gives a summary of recent debates among weibo users over the safety and education of China’s 60 million “left-behind” children:
As reports of sexual assault and even murder of children have triggered public debate in China, the safety of the country’s youth has become a recurring issue. A July 4 incident in which two left-behind children suffocated to death when accidentally trapped in a wooden box recently inspired one microblogger to call for greater care for the safety of an even more vulnerable subset of China’s youth, the so-called “left-behind children,” or those who remain in rural areas while their parents earn a living as migrant workers in China’s big cities. Shared over 15,000 times, the post was cause for reflection about the roots of this problem, and ways it might be addressed. Weibo user Read Society wrote:
Recently, a number of left-behind children have died in accidents across the country, casting an even darker shadow on the issue of the safety of left-behind children. Their parents are working far away, and their grandparents have weak safety awareness. Truly, we are worried for these left-behind treasures! Where is a safe, secure home for them?
As social watchers and weibo commentators urge parents and government to be more responsible for the “left-behind”, some social groups are already taking the initiative. From Wu Nan at South China Morning Post:
Other things were also needed. “There is no national fund for these children,” said Wang Guohua, 50, secretary general of the Care for Abandoned Children Fund, which operates under the China Foundation for Culture and the Arts for Children.
Starting the fund three years ago, Wang Guohua has solicited money from private property owners and businessmen, even spending his own money to raise about one to two million yuan a year. “I aim to run the foundation…. it’s not a charity to give out cash,” he said. “What abandoned children mainly need is not money, but care and motivation”
That’s why he came up with the idea to elect “role model abandoned children” nationally. “Children need to have role models so they can grow up confidently. Despite their parents not being around, they can gain respect and recognition from others.” [Source]