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Rural Migrants Leave over 70 Million Children Behind

Experts worry that children of migrant workers, left with relatives in the their hometown, suffer academically and emotionally.

When 90 million rural laborers migrated to China's cities to look for jobs, they left behind more than 70 million children, the China Youth Daily reported Monday.

Only a small fraction of migrant rural laborers can afford to take their children with them to big cities where they work. This means the rest leave their children in the care of one parent or other family members, the Ministry of Agriculture was quoted by the China Youth Daily as saying.

"89.9 percent of migrant workers' children are left at home, among which children with both the parents working in cities account for 65 percent," said a survey from Zhugao, a town in Jintang County, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Experts said problems concerning these children's security, education, and psychological health are emerging as a potentially social issue.

Among the children surveyed, 41.3 percent said they feel sad when watching other children with their parents; 27.7 percent said they feel lonely and deserted, and 6.6 percent think about running away from home, the survey said.

"This indicates these children seriously lack parental love, which is detrimental to their mental health," the survey stressed.

Most of the children, with one of their parents or kin as guardians, get poor grades school. The majority of the guardians think they are only responsible for providing them with daily necessities, but not for their education, the survey added.

Li Qingfeng, professor with the Beijing Polytechnical University, said "though migrant workers are more financially adequate for providing their children with daily necessities and opportunity for education, the lack of communication between parents and children poses great threat to the comprehensive development of this group of children."

(Xinhua News Agency October 26, 2004)

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