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English>>China Society

Govt, families failing left-behind children in dire need of support

(Global Times)

08:21, November 29, 2012

Illustration: Liu Rui

The bodies of five boys were found in a large garbage container in the city of Bijie, Southwest China's Guizhou Province in mid-November. They made a fire to warm themselves inside the container but were killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since the tragedy happened, the media and the public have been blaming the government. They criticized the local civil affairs bureau for not caring about these children and the education bureau for neglecting their safety. The local government has suspended and sacked the officials involved, while it's questionable if the government should bear full responsibility for the deaths. Shouldn't we ask where their guardians were when the incident happened?

As investigations deepened, more information was revealed. The five kids were related. Due to poverty, their parents went to Shenzhen to make a living, and nobody took care of these kids. It was reported that only one of the five boys had been sent to school, but he used to play truant, despite school officials and teachers having visited his home to persuade him back. I would say that their parents failed to shoulder the responsibility of guarding their children.

This case has reflected how China's legal system is lagging behind. Up to date, China has no particular law concerning the guardianship of children whose parents migrate to other cities to work. We constantly hear about tragedies happening to children left behind in their hometowns.

The law clearly states that parents are responsible as their children's guardians. Their relatives can take over this responsibility if parents have died or are unable to fulfill this role.

If none of these options are possible, the local civil affairs bureau can take custody of the children.

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