The recent case of a left-behind girl of 11 subjected to sexual assault aroused broad attention after being reported. The case exposes the vulnerability of many left-behind children to sexual exploitation. Below is our abridged translation of an article by the Woqi Foundation (沃启基金会), introducing a report on left-behind children produced by the foundation. You can find the original article here. The report analyses their needs, sorts out and presents the status of the relevant supporting policies (and resources), and then scans the sector of local organizations, and also further analyzes and refines the intervention mode, hoping to guide a rational and effective flow of charity resources to left-behind children.
The report reflects the final research results of the “public service navigation” project, initiated and implemented by the Woqi Foundation. It was officially published by the Intellectual Property Press with the support of Oxfam Hong Kong, and a seminar and conference was held in the Social Organization Development Service Center on December 10.
The article below summarises the first part of the report, on “left-behind children’s central and special care and protection policies”.
Central policies and regulations
Policy suggestions on the basic rights of left-behind children
In 2006, the State Council issued a document entitled “a Number of Opinions on Solving the Problems of Migrant Workers” ( No. 5 document). Article 21 of the opinions is the earliest policy related to the educational rights of left behind children, and it stipulates the following: “the local governments of the places of origin of the migrants should solve the educational problems of the children left-behind in the countryside by the migrant workers.” The policy fully affirmed the social contribution of migrant workers, and clearly guaranteed their children’s equal right to receive compulsory education.
Further policies on the care and protection of left-behind children
In February 2016, the State Council issued the “Opinions on Strengthening the Care and Protection of Left-behind Children in Rural Areas”. This is the first systematic policy document of the central government that is specifically aimed at the care and protection of left-behind children, clarifying the policy measures and working mechanisms for their protection. This means that the state has started to make targeted policy considerations and systematic system design for the phenomenon of left-behind children in the two aspects of improving their care service system and rescue and protection mechanism.
Left-behind children are included in the children’s development program, population planning and the human rights action plan.
In 2011, the State Council issued the “Development Program for China’s Children (2011-2020)”, emphasizing the establishment and improvement of a service mechanism for rural left-behind children, strengthening the guidance of the left-behind children’s psychology, emotion and behaviour, and improving the parents’ awareness and responsibility of guardianship.
“Left behind children” written into the central government’s “Decision”
In November 2013, “improving the care and service system for left-behind children in rural areas” was written into the “Decision on Comprehensively Deepening Reform” for the first time. The rights of left-behind children and their accompanying children were guaranteed through laws and policies, and the problem of left-behind children received serious attention from the state.
Special policies and regulations
As far as the policies of the the education department are concerned, they are mainly reflected in the improvement of school boarding conditions and the support of the “two exemptions and one subsidy”.
Nutrition and health
The most important policy and measure is to provide free lunch for vulnerable children in especially impoverished areas and the areas where left-behind children concentrate, arrange a reasonable meal structure, improve the nutritional status of the children, and reduce the incidences of malnutrition of the left-behind children.
In 2014, the Ministry of Education issued the “compulsory education school management standards (Trial)”, making systematic provisions on school safety.
In November 2016, the State Council issued the 13th five year plan for poverty alleviation, which requires all localities to provide care services for the “three left behind” categories through government purchase of services, government purchase of grassroots public management and social service posts, and the introduction of social work professionals and volunteers.
Support social organizations to participate in providing services for left-behind children
In September 2012, the “implementation plan of the special plan for social work professionals and the “three areas” talent support plan” issued by the Organization Department, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and other six departments stipulated that from 2012 to 2020, services will be provided through the introduction of outside social work professionals and the cultivation of local professionals every year. The key groups include rural left-behind children.