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Sunday, 17-September-2006
BEIJING- - Too much attention will spoil a child, but the lack of it can cause problems for their healthy growth.

Statistics reveal that nearly 20 million rural children are left behind in the countryside while their parents seek work in urban areas.

Moral degradation, poor school performances, psychological barriers and personal safety are the four most common problems for these children, because of a lack of parental love and care.

The fact that a national telephone conference was held on Thursday on this issue sent a double message the wellbeing and future of large numbers of rural children has become a national concern, and the central authorities have realized the possible consequences of a failure to address the issue.

These children are a ticking time bomb they will enter adulthood in a decade and they could be a large labour force for both farms and factories, but many of them will grow into problematic youths because of their exposure to bad influences during their parents' absence.

They could pose a threat to the security of both urban and rural areas.

Both agriculture and industry are likely to set higher demands on the quality of laborers in 10 years. What if many children from this group fail to prepare themselves for that?

Instead of making a contribution to society they will become a burden. This will be doubly true for those who develop psychological barriers.

The immediate concern for the time being is that these rural children could be abducted, sexually abused, injured or even killed in natural disasters. When a serious flood hit a township in Central China's Hunan Province last year, 11 of the 12 children killed were living without parental care.

It is unrealistic to bring such a large number of rural children to the cities with their parents. The financial conditions of these rural parents do not allow them to do so and neither does the current capacity of urban schools, although many cities have new policies allowing the children of rural labourers equal treatment in urban schools.

Pragmatic ways need to be worked out to provide them with better care in their home towns and villages.

One thousand training schools were established throughout Central China's Hunan Province in early June this year, to train grandparents or relatives to take care of these children. This might be a pragmatic approach for the time being.

Meanwhile a special group established by the All China Federation of Women to study the issue will look for staged solutions to the problem, according to the telephone conference.

It may take some time before more realistic and effective approaches can be mapped out, but this problem must be tackled. Enditem¡¡
(Sources: China Daily)

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