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Lack of supervision can be fatal to children (2)

By Liang Yiwen and Hu Minghao (Shanghai Daily)

08:36, July 09, 2012

Migrant children most vulnerable

Shanghai has more than 500,000 migrant children in kindergartens, primary schools and middle schools. In the summer, most children stay in the city with their parents, who scrounge a living at the bottom rung of the economic ladder year-round to make ends meet. Migrant workers' children account for the majority of the accidental injuries and deaths because of the lack of parental supervision, commission officials said.

To find out how the migrant workers' children spend their summer vacation, Shanghai Daily visited a clothing wholesale market on Qipu Road and a second-hand electronics equipment market on Qiujiang Road. Most of the stalls and shops in the markets are operated by migrants.

Many migrant workers take their children to work with them, but when their attention is on customers, the eyes can stray from the hijinks of children.

The children were found playing among corridors jammed with sometimes precariously perched goods, riding escalators in markets and playing hide-and-seek on heavily trafficked roads.

Some grilled food on bamboo sticks, seemingly unaware of the dangers of the sharp ends of the skewers.

"My son is growing up in the market," said a Qipu Road shop owner Li Aixiang, an Anhui Province native.

"He once fell down the escalator, which left a scar in the forehead."

There are reports of children's hands, or even heads, getting stuck between escalators in supermarkets and malls.

Most migrant workers say they understand the potential safety risk of unsupervised children, but they sadly admit they have no other choices because they need to earn a living.

"I cannot stop worrying about my son, who's playing outside every day," said Wang Xin, a clothing shop owner and father of a 10-year-old. "But there is no one else to look after him at home."

Some families send their children to stay with relatives in native provinces for the summer or enroll them in day care of summer camps, if they can afford it.

Some migrant workers even lock their children up at home while they are away, but that's risky. A six-year-old boy burned to death in his home during the May Day holiday after his parents locked him inside the house to protect him while they were at work. News of kids hurt climbing out of the windows of locked houses to play with friends isn't uncommon.

Some communities and groups sponsor free summer classes and activities for children whose parents have to work, but the number doesn't meet the need.

"I would like to hire a tutor to look after my children," said Wang, the shop owner.

"But my family just can't afford it."

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