Vagrant children live a nightmare on society's margins (2)

14:29, June 01, 2010      

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Condition of vagrant children is of concern

There are about 1.5 million vagrant children, 1,376 salvation management stations and 118 assistance and protection centers in China.

Statistics show that a total of 815,000 vagrant children accepted assistance between 2004 and 2009, with an average of 150,000 assisted annually. These children mainly live their lives by begging and scavenging. Moreover, they are gradually becoming a major criminal element. Some street children spontaneously form gangs to beg and steal, but in most cases, they are controlled by criminals.

According to China's relevant laws, if a child below the age of 14 years old commits a crime, they will not be punished and only their guardians will be cautioned and ordered to strengthen the education for their children. Children aged 14 years to 18 years who violate the law will be given a lesser punishment. Therefore, taking advantage of these laws, some criminals compel vagrant children to commit crimes so they themselves can escape legal responsibilities.

They force these vulnerable children to beg on the streets and even set certain begging tasks. Children who cannot complete the tasks will suffer from hunger and corporal punishment. In order to arouse more sympathy among people and to get more money, many criminals deliberately maim these vagrant children.

The vagrant children live in waiting rooms of railway stations, abandoned buildings, cement pipes as well as under bridges because they do not have any normal resting places. Many fall into bad habits such as smoking and drinking, and are unable to participate in statutory immunization programs because of lack of adult care. Therefore, they cannot find a good environment for the healthy development of their bodies because of their abnormal lives. In addition, they are often bullied and exploited by companions and homeless adults. Girls risk being molested or even raped by men.

Street lives have a profound influence on their mental health. Most of them left their homes because they lacked love from their parents and warmth from a family. They were bullied, discriminated, abused by people around them, and did not get any care and respect.

In addition, because they were prematurely thrust into a life of living on their own, vagrant children not only have to look after themselves, but also learn to lie and cheat. As a result, their psychology and behavior is afflicted by abnormal socialization.

There are many incidents involving vagrant children, such as those who were caught snatching money from people in front the Dongfang Shopping Center in Shijiazhuang and in the tunnel across the street. Furthermore, a vagrant child from Tieling resorted to murder and arson as revenge for being bullied when he was young. It is possible that vagrant children will have a strong sense of exclusion even if they return to normal society.

ifeng.com contributes to this article.

By People's Daily Online
【1】 【2】

(Editor:叶欣)

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