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Rural children struggle while their parents toil in cities

(Xinhua)

15:28, September 29, 2011

CHONGQING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Cold rice. A few slices of dried beancurd.

Tan Biyue takes the same lunch box to school every day.

The eight-year-old never complains, knowing it is the best her aging grandparents can prepare for her.

Her real agony comes from missing her parents.

Tan's mother, fed up with the tough life in the poor village in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, walked out when Tan was still a baby.

Unable to support the family on the meager farming income, her father spends most of his time in the country's south, working as a migrant worker.

"I cannot remember what my mom looks like, but I'm sure she's sweet," said Tan, her eyes filled with tears.

LONELY CHILDHOOD

Tan belongs to a lonely group that is known in China as left-behind children -- an estimated 58 million children who are cared for by a single parent, grandparents, and sometimes a distant relative or even a neighbor. Their parents have migrated to cities in search of work.

Of all the 58 students at Tan's Caoping Primary School, 35 are left-behind children.

Across Chongqing, the number of left-behind children is estimated at 2.35 million.

"My parents came home to celebrate the Moon Festival two weeks ago," said Tan's classmate Huang Yinshen. "My friends were so jealous that they didn't talk to me for days."

China Youth and Children Research Center found in a survey that more than 57 percent of the rural left-behind children suffer psychological problems, including cowardice, self-contempt, belligerence and resentment for their parents.

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