The phenomenon of ‘left-behind children’ is faced by most developing countries as parents leave their children to work in places or countries where the economy is doing well.
In a presentation at the youth forum organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as part of the China-Africa Conference on Population and Development hosted by Ghana, Ms Chuyi Shi of the Nanhang Jincheng College, China said left-behind children were vulnerable and the absence of their parents had many negative effects on them.
Ms Chuyi was one of six Chinese students of the Beifang International Education Group who participated in the forum and shared their ideas and experiences with their colleagues from other countries.
She noted that just like many developing countries, China was also facing the challenge of left-behind children.
Increasingly, Ms Chuyi said, more young adults were entering the cities to find opportunities for work, with most leaving their children behind in the countryside.
“The children who are in the pivotal period of their growth and development cannot get the guidance of their parents, thus, they lack protection, love and encouragement when they are hurt or in trouble.
“Long separation from parents also cause many psychological problems, such as lack of self-confidence, resentment of parents, unwillingness to communicate with others or becoming irritable.
“They are unable to enjoy the same quality of life as other children and some do not get quality education,” she added.
Sadly, the wages earned by the parents are not even enough to provide for the living expenses of the whole family, she noted.
Government must help
Ms Chuyi stressed the need for the government to institute measures to solve the problems of left-behind children.
These should include providing them with psychological support, setting up social organisations for their care and providing them with quality education.
In addition, Ms Chuyi said governments must create more local employment so parents can stay with their children.
In his remarks at the opening session, Mr Zhang Chi Zhang, a 20-year-old student of the Harbin Guangsha College, China said the forum had offered a platform for youth in different countries to share their ideas and perspectives on the issues affecting their development.
He observed that young people now had opportunities to be empowered, and challenged the youth to use their power to change the world.
Mr Zhang said the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 had created opportunities for improved girls education, decrease in child marriages and a steep decline in adolescent births in China.