The results of research on criminality and left-behind children conducted over the last three years by Zhang Dandan, an assistant professor at the National School of Development of Peking University, have been released. The scholar has been permitted to visit a male prison in a city on the eastern coast of China in order to conduct her research. The pool of participants involved includes 1200 inmates of this prison, and the researcher continuously spent nearly three months with her students in order to conduct the interviews and collect all the data.
Initially, Professor Zhang did not focus on the area of left-behind children. However, after conducting a preliminary examination of the sample population, she realised that being a left-behind child had a significant impact on youth development. Thus, she redesigned her research questions and added questions such as “did you live with your parents long-term before 16? If not, who did you usually live with and how long did you live together? Why did you not live with your parents? Did they divorce?”
After analyzing the data, Professor Zhang realized that over 17% of the male prisoners used to be left-behind children. Many of them are aged around twenty, and have three common characteristics. First of all, most of them dropped out of school at a young age. Secondly, they do not posses normative values and feel little guilt when committing a crime. Lastly, they tend to feel little sympathy towards other people and be more rash when making decisions. Professor Zhang will continue her research in a different female-only prison and hopes to get more insight into criminality and left-behind children from a female perspectives.