The number of children left behind in rural China will break your heart. These are children separated from their parents by thousands of miles. Their circumstances produce depression, malnutrition, and abuse. How can a country economically leading the world have such a severe poverty issue, especially among children?
Almost all the economic prosperity in China is taking place in urban areas. China’s massive cities like Bejing (19 million), Shanghai (22 million), and Guangzhou (11 million) are home to financial and manufacturing booms. Only about half of the Chinese population lives in urban areas, though.
By contrast, the rural population faces extreme poverty. Few jobs exist in rural China beyond difficult farming. To complicate matters, China has a restrictive internal passport system. It discourages citizens from moving by only providing government benefits (education, healthcare, retirement) in places where they are registered.
How Childen Are Left Behind in China
A typical scenario is for parents to leave rural areas to work in the city … often move thousands of miles away. If the parents take their children with them, government restrictions will prevent the children from attending school or even visiting a doctor. So kids are left behind with (often illiterate) grandparents or relatives.
According to the latest available data, left behind children number 61 million. Another 9 million kids are left behind in one city while parents work in another. The total of 70 million is hard to comprehend. It’s staggering when you compare it to the child population in another country.
There are 70 million left-behind children in China.
There are 74 million children total in the United States.
Is Anything Being Done to Help?
The Chinese government is aware of the problem but limited in what they can do alone. A government program to train “barefoot social workers” will only reach 250,000. That’s less than 4% of all the children in need.
You Can Help Today
The left-behind children are at the core of all we do at Project Partner. The programs you support for clean water, healthcare, and education directly help left-behind children. Your support provides immediate care and builds hope for a brighter future. Thank you.