Thursday, 20 February 2014

China's 60 million "left behind" children face neglect and poor mental health

by Michael Woodhead
More than 60 million Chinese children have been 'left behind' by rural migrants who move to cities and these children suffer from neglect and mental health problems, a new study has shown.
Research conducted by Dr Zhao Xue of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University has found that almost 60% of children in the rural areas were 'left behind'. This was a much higher number than expected and reflected China's "explosive growth" and shift to urban centres.
The survey of almost 1700 'left behind' children in rural Anhui found that they had higher levels of neglect, higher levels of social anxiety,  lower family function and poor quality of life compared to  children who lived with their parents. The problems were worse for girls perhaps because in Chinese society they have lower status than boys and thus get little attention, receive less physical and emotional support and have worse lives than boys, the researchers said.
However, left behind children tended to have lower rates of physical abuse than children who lived with thir parents. This might be becuse the escaped the "education by sticks" beatings from parents, the study authors suggested.
"These findings suggest that "left behind children' are currently in a relatively disadvantaged situation in Changfeng county and require more help from the local government and society to improve their life environment," they concluded.
The findings are published in Acta Paediatrica.

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