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A New Study Shows Left Behind Children are More Likely to Acquire Cardiovascular Disease

A new study conducted by Jinkui Lu, Xiaojian Yin, and Lihong Mao shows that left behind children are more likely to acquire cardiovascular disease.

It is commonly said, when referring to LBC, they are more susceptible to poor performance in the classroom as indicted by teacher accounts and test scores. Another pattern for LBC is they tend to have higher rates of depression and low self esteem.

What we neglect to consider is that the constant stress on the neglected children deteriorate their physical health. Results show that left behind children are more susceptible to increased heart rate and blood glucose levels than non-left behind children. There is also a correlation with life satisfaction, academic satisfaction, loneliness, and happiness scores.

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“Serious attention should be paid to effects of parental migration on the health of left-behind children, in order to provide a better societal environment to protect them from both mental and physical disorders in later life.” 

Later on in life, LBC are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. It is a potential health problem that could be reduced with attention and care to one’s emotional well-being. A Norwegian study found that depression increases the risk of heart failure by 40%. Our goal is to empower children with the tools and skills to combat any stress-related issues. Depression causes some to loose interest and become despondent, neither happy nor sad nor angry.

Loosing contact with a parent, a child takes it upon themselves to safeguard their emotional well-being by shutting down. It is a difficult task to be a child without a clear understanding of why they have to work so far away. Depression is a common characteristic in LBC, and with depression, cardiovascular disease typically follows.

What must happen is for these children to be educated and realize their full potential. They have so much to offer.

Sources: 

http://pubs.sciepub.com/jfnr/2/3/1/jfnr-2-3-1.pdf

http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/pictures/elderly-women-children-left-behind-in-chinese-rural-countryside.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Depressed-people-at-40-higher-risk-of-heart-failure-study/articleshow/33299371.cms

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CNN Reports on Sexual Abuse

“When you have 61 million children who cannot relate to their parents, it is very traumatizing for a society,” Sanna Johnson.

cnn_LBCchild

What if a child was sexually abused at school, but there’s no parent at home to tell?

It is the case for left behind children. They are named “easy targets” for sexual abuse and haressment.

Chen left his daughter to be raised by his grandmother in a supposedly safe, sleepy place. She called sounding depressed and like something was not right. Later she said it hurts down there. It was discovered that she was abused by her teacher who also abused five other victims under the age of 14.

Around 250 million have migrated to the cities escaping from poor areas with limited job opportunities. Children of these parents are extremely vulnerable. Parents send them presents in place of themselves. They begin to value materialism above anything else. Sexual predators often take advantage and give them gifts to reel them in. Huazhou in Guangdong province reported 94% of sexual abuse cases involving left behind children. They have limited supervision, no safety precautions, and have no education about self-protection.

As a result of Chen’s case, he is fighting to bring justice against his daughter’s assailant. There have been safety meetings to educate and guarantee the safety of the school’s children. Parents need to teach children not to take rides from strangers. Parents should say not to walk across the street without a buddy. Without the appropriate education and supervision, children are left unprotected and extremely vulnerable to predators.

The All-China Women’s Federation realizes this. They are calling for an increase of the care for left behind children. They wish to put into place official guardians taking responsibility for providing safe custody. The CWF is asking the government to set up a protection system for the children to turn to. Left behind children report feelings of abandonment and guilt. They think they are a burden to their parents. It is difficult psychologically and emotionally they struggle. What should we do? EDUCATE! Educate others about the effects of migration on family systems. Educate left behind children about self-care, self-respect, and safety matters. We can act and save millions!

Check out the largest migration on the planet –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcGnvTL0NdY

Sources:

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/04/world/asia/china-children-left-behind/

http://www.china.org.cn/china/2013-08/09/content_29672476.htm

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Home for the Holidays

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“… I’m just thinking about making a bit more money here, then buy a house back home as soon as possible. Housing prices are too steep nowadays, still have to wait a few more years,” (Chinas Mack). Gao Changliang, a migrant worker, drove a taxi to provide money to his family. The mother stayed behind for the children but the family was fragmented. Living in the city is expensive. The city though provides the jobs the parents are looking for to earn money for their children to have a better quality of life. Gao Changliang and his family took an expensive high-speed train to be reunited with family for Chinese New Year. After the new year ends, the wife and children will go back to their hometown leaving the father behind to work in the city. 

Parents are doing what they think is right to provide a better life for their children. In the past few years the number of left behind children in China has doubled. A very common phrase that is heard in stories from LBC is they see their parents only once a year during the Chinese New Year Festival, which happily is tomorrow. It is now the time of the year we may rejoice in knowing that many children will be reunited with their parents for a joyful holiday celebration. We must also be aware that they lack the emotional support the rest of the calendar year.

Growing up in a household with no parents has significant psychological effects. The mental health of the child is a factor that we have to be aware of, and the parents also have to acknowledge when making the choice to work in the city. Working away provides food, clothing, and an education – a better future for the child. Or does it? 

1 in 7 children in one of the villages has migrant parents and live with their grandparents (tough times). The teachers say they need extra academic support. China’s strict residency laws prevent children from going to school out of their hometown. Professor Chengrong, academic and author, states “psychological and emotional problems are the most common,” (tough times). We can provide encouragement and support in their social life, emotional health, and education to the child left behind. Encouraging regular and meaningful communication between the parent and child is also a great need.

 

Sources:

http://www.chinasmack.com/2013/pictures/migrant-workers-buy-expensive-high-speed-train-tickets-home.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDxKaGPYFIY

 

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UNICEF on China’s Street Children (Video)

Left Behind: China’s Child Negligence Epidemic (LinkAsia: 12/7/12)

 

 

 

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Drownings, disappointing calls, and the pressure to do well.

Ping’an, a 3 years old boy, wandered in a water hole and drowned. His parents came back from work for the funeral and returned to work shortly after. The father tells people that his son died of a sickness and was quoted saying  “I don’t feel badly about it,” (wsj). There has been a startling increase in drownings of left behind children in China from neglect and lack of supervision. The statistics are devastating. 

The Jiang brothers’ parents work in a purse factory in Guangdong province. The high cost of transportation totaling near to their salaries leaves them with only enough to visit their children at the Chinese New Year. Opportunities to talk over the phone are composed of the children answering the parents’ questions and reciting school textbooks. “Kids in the countryside are not the same as those city children,” says Fan Renshu, principal of the village elementary school. “City children are too reliant on their parents. Rural kids are more independent. They are used to not having parents around,” (World Policy Institute).

Therefore, although a phone conversation is possible, the conversation does not fulfill the child’s emotional needs. The Chinese concept of face comes into play during phone calls. This is because it is to “loose face” when one displays a negative emotion and they are embarrassed or disgraced for not being able to handle the situation. In China it is not acceptable to get angry or upset. Obedience to authority, conformity, and self-control are the widely accepted values that prevent children and parents to have an honest emotional discussion over the phone regarding their absence.

In Xia Qing, left behind children walk up the mountain to Mao Cao Ping Primary School. 39 out of 75 students have migrant workers as parents. Their Chinese language teacher Yang Yuansong often comforts them by after they are contacted by their parents. Parents just say: ‘Behave, study hard, do well.’

Global Children’s Vision seeks to strengthen the quality of communication between children and parents. Wandering children that drown from neglect is unacceptable. Phone conversations that make the children either more upset or numb from lack of emotional response from their parents is unacceptable. GCV equips these children with the tools for more effective communication and emotional resiliency.

Sources

http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/summer2013/chinas-left-behind

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304173704579260900849637692?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304173704579260900849637692.html

 

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Diaries of Left-Behind Children

One of the largest migrations in human history, rural poor workers are traveling to cities where the jobs are. China’s economic boom is partly caused by an increase of migrant workers willing to work for low wages. The high costs of living and long work hours force parents to leave children to be raised with grandparents in the villages until they earn the money to take them to the city.

A young girl talks to her parents over the phone while they are away. She is the first to use the free phone at school. It is a difficult call to make. She cries saying, “I’m not used to chatting with them…usually I just answer their questions,” (Youtube). 

It is heart-breaking to hear the individual stories of children apart from their parents who are living in the city to work. A teacher at the end of the video implores the public to see that left-behind children are hard-working and independent. At the same time they lack the ability to trust others. 

A plea for time off was discovered on the door of Jianba hairdressers in the southern city of Zhuzhou. Hairdresser Wu Hongwe addressed the note to customers with the message, “I got a call from my daughter yesterday. I have been away from her so long, she doesn’t even know how to call me ‘Daddy’ any more… I beg you for a week off to visit my family,” (Wan).  Wu’s daughter Beibei has become accustomed to calling her parents Mum and Dad, with the mentality that they are just their names. With so much time and distance between the child and her parents, they have become strangers to her. “Mama” has no meaning. The countryside where she lives is a healthy environment and has a low cost of living unlike her parents’ city. She grew up with her native dialect and has a difficult time understanding her mother’s Chinese.

What hurts her parents the most is that their daughter does not know what it is like to have a mother. They have set a goal of working to gain enough money to bring her into the city by February this year.

Within the next week, there will be a research launch on “They are Parents: A Study on Migrant Workers of Left Behind Children in China” with conferences in Beijing and Shanghai. CCR CSR report launch will share a study from the perspective of working parents, (Zhang). We need to realize that these migrant parents do what they do because they think it is what is right for the well-being of their children. Don’t we all want what is best for our kids? Now we have the mission to provide the educational and social services to left-behind children to promote their emotional development. Global Children’s Vision strives to equip LBC with the tools to succeed in life.

Please refer to our site for more information about coming on a trip to China or making a donation.

Sources

http://www.ccrcsr.com/sites/default/files/Study%20Launch%20invitation_English_1212.pdf

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/chinas-parenting-problem-children-of-the-industrial-revolution-9045080.html

 

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Parents find work away from children left behind in Romania

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A woman feeds her child at a charity event in Bucharest, Romania, one of the poorest countries in the European Union. Photo: Reuters

One mother says her husband earns money in France that is not worth much there, but in Romania it is of much more worth and is used for the family. Even if they understand that a parent is working away to bring them a better life, doesn’t it still hurt the children? What is being done for the kids left behind?

“Mum doesn’t want to stay away long. She just went there to make money for me and my sister,” said Cristina, a nine-year-old who lives with her grandmother when her mother is away. (South China Morning Post)

80,000 Romanian families have both parents working abroad according to the Romanian ministry of labour. Children left behind are put in a vulnerable position as they no longer get parental care and support, expresses a psychologist for Save the Children. Romania desperately struggles from parental migration. Thankfully there have been programs put into place aiming to improve the child’s development such as day-cares and support systems. What the children need most is support and individualized attention.

The government is acknowledging the issue. A law states the parents must register before going oversees to work and allow a judge to approve of the chosen guardians. Families do not tell the government of their plans to work abroad and reliable guardians are not assigned.

Please View This Moving Trailer For A Documentary On the Romanian Tragedy – Depressed Left Behind Children in Romania Commit Suicide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&feature=share&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

Sources

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1393286/romanias-children-being-left-behind-their-parents-seek-work-abroad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

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The Case of Maria and Others Left Behind

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A tragic case is of 11 year old Maria, abused at home by her mother. The mother left her in the house for three months to work in Moscow then came back as an alcoholic. She beat her and had sex in front of her damaging her child emotionally with the abuse. This story is very common. A community in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is suffering from economic and social breakdown caused by a collapse of state-run collective. “As a result, more than half of its working adults go abroad to earn a living wage,” (Milmo).

Another case of Adriana, 13, and 16 year old Gina moved in with their grandmother when there parents went to work in Moscow. Gina became pregnant, was banished, and lived in animal sheds. A study in 2005 found that 110,000 Moldovan children lived in a household where either one or both parents are absent,” (Milmo)

Left Behind Children are found across Europe. Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is another country dealing with temporary labor migration. This means that there is short term emigration from Lithuania parents who leave children to be cared for relatives. Most of the time it is undocumented. According to a 2007 study, 36 percent of children who stayed behind experience noticeable changes in behavior (VAITEKONIENĖ). The first case study recorded children left behind as anxious, lonely and lacking in confidence. The second case study found them to be suffering from anxiety and sadness, loss of appetite and sleep disorders. The final case study compared genders. Boys tend to develop emotional and behavioral disorders while girl are more likely to show symptoms of depression. The term “Left Behind” doesn’t seem to be used, but the problem and the solutions are similar.

Government officials have acted to raise awareness and bring about progress, A conference was held in the European Parliament in Brussels“Left Behind ‐ The impact of economic migration on children left behind and their families” addressed the issue of children left behind in the country of origin when parents move to another European country in search of employment. “This phenomenon is still underestimated and often unknown even if it concerns approximately half million children in the EU. The event gathered experts from across Europe to analyze the situation of transnational families in different European countries,” (eurochild). They addressed the effects of the migration on children and their families. The mission of Global Children’s Vision was also reflect in this conference by looking at the issue in a multi-dimentional perspective through the eyes of psychologists, sociologists, and public policy makers. Their publication on Children Left Behind is available here.
Sources
http://www.eurochild.org/en/events/details/index.html?tx_ttnews%5BpS%5D=1387864342&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=1627&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=287&cHash=dcb07a7928a165d97f945b0ee271bf47

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/independent-appeal-help-for-the-children-left-behind-2160539.html

http://www.lituanus.org/2010/10_3_06%20Vaitekoniene.html

 

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Crime Rates Increase for Left Behind Youth

Left Behind Children often suffer from lack of guidance and supervision. Though well-supported financially by parents working in the city, it has been found that “without normal family guardianship and education, some of the children quit school at an early age and commit crimes,” (Chuanjiao). Loneliness and feelings of abandonment contribute to a neglect of their education. They turn to crime. The crime rate increases for left behind youth. For rural youth, it often is the case that they are not bailed out for that crime.

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“Young people left behind by migrant parents, meanwhile, are more vulnerable to being incarcerated if they have no guardian. Their rural home towns lack resources to monitor children on probation, so they end up in prison. They also appear more susceptible to trouble in the first place. The Centre for Child-Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility, a Beijing partner of Save the Children Sweden, conducted a survey which found that 60% of left-behind children felt their parents were “not around” when they needed support,” (Economist).

Li Tianyi’s case is one that has spread throughout online media. Although Li has famous singers as parents, he is still a migrant and therefore was put in prison. In cases that deal with youth from rural areas the teenager is usually sentenced to a longer term in prison. Mr. Li was convicted of a crime of gang rape and was sentenced for 10 years in prison. His accomplices pleaded guilty and paid a large sum of money. They were “city-dwellers”. When the criminal is a former Left Behind Child from a rural area “Chinese courts are more likely to imprison rural and migrant youths than their city peers,” (Economist). City peers can pay the victim a compensation in place of imprisionment. The case of Mr. Li illustrates the urban-rural gap and what it means for those affected by China’s urbanization phenomenon.

Migrant youth do not have the benefits that urban youth are privileged with. Healthcare and social security is not accessible for the youth living in rural areas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1suPxXTrpmw

Unfortunately the hukou system makes it so that migrant workers have limited rights denying them services that only citizens of urban areas are given. It therefore decreases equality between migrant workers and urban citizens. In fact it prevents them from assimilating into the city. It is creating various living issues that have detrimental emotional and social effects on the workers. They are losing hope and struggling with feelings of loneliness and not fitting in. 

 

Sources:

http://www.cmc-china.org/uploads/File/migrant-news/07.09.21%20Rural%20Kids%20Lead%20Spike%20In%20Teenage%20Crime%20Rate%20China%20Daily.pdf

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21588402-how-young-criminals-are-treated-says-much-about-urban-rural-gap-hard-times

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90882/8407647.html

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Parents in Temporary Labor Migration

mexicangirl

 

An article by Castaneda and Buck says family unit is more important than poverty for children illustrated in the dialogue below.

“You have it all. Good clothes. Good tennis shoes,”. . .

“I’d trade it all for my mother . . .  You can never get the love of a

mother from someone else” (Nazario 2006:xii).

Research studies show that transition is traumatic for the child. Whether it be a divorce or remarriage, a transition in the family structure impact’s a child’s poor school performance. When a child’s grades plummet, the teacher assumes something is happening in their home life. Family system disruption decreases the child’s chances of having healthy emotional and psychological development. Nobles (2006)  suggests that more than a third of Mexican children experience some type of household disruption during childhood,”(Cortes). Networks in indigenous rural areas helped next of kin, but very rarely provided assistance to non-family members. Migration brokers promise to help pay for the migration and while the parents works in a temporary labor position in America, they are expected to pay the broker or the family left behind is in debt. Mexican educational credentials are less important than US education. There is less incentive for the child to continue their education while the parent is away. Having migrant parents lowers the chance of boys completing junior high and girls completing high school. Migrant parents do not expect that the separation will cause they left behind children to suffer in school. Males tend to work to support left behind family and drop out of school. Females tend to dropout because of marriage. The Mexican community is known to criticize the migrant parent and in extension the child calling the parent a “social climber” and associating them with the negative image of illegal trafficking. This labeling causes the children to be looked down upon and margenalized. Safety issues  also arise from “lack of parental care, separated children and linkages with trafficking, recourse to institutionalization and child labour,” (Cortes). Parents work hard abroad to send money home to their families to improve their quality of life. The money sent home is given for the children. Teachers do not like the idea of the children having control over the money sent home.

From my personal observations on the opposite side of the issue, parental separation has detrimental effects on the child living in America. A child being raised in a Spanish-speaking community with the parent left behind in Mexico has the expectation in schools to learn how to read and write in English. The expectation in their household is to know both Spanish and English. The child often is raised in a home with grandparents, extended family members, and siblings who desperately want to visit Mexico to see their mom or dad. It is difficult for one to witness the drop in the child’s educational performance after the parent is away. The parent who sent the child to Americaa for a better life lives with extended family or friends. The parent wants to be with the child but there are so many factors against them. “A trip to the United States for most migrants involves physical danger, unpleasant working conditions, low social status, illegality, family separation, and other deterrents,” (Kandel and Kao) Migration is a tricky issue for the observer to fully understand. The parent works hard to provide the child with food, clothes, and a livelihood yet the impact of the disintegration of the family structure has many negative effects. This issue cannot be ignored by educators, child-care providers, or mental health counselors.

Lastly, the “abandonment” of parents not only hurt the child, but also impact the parent’s mental health. A study on parents who are left behind when children pirate to the United States were examined. Higher anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and a wish to die were significant psychological effects that were reported in the study (Arenas and Yahirun). It is therefore important to examine all sides to migration to effectively understand to impact of the family unit for one’s mental health and  education.

 

Sources

http://www.academia.edu/232141/_Left_Behind_The_Effect_of_Childrens_Migration_on_Parents_Mental_Health_in_Mexico_

http://www.childmigration.net/files/Rosalia_Cortes_07.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3092008?origin=JSTOR-pdf&

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1557-203X.2011.01136.x/abstract

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