Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China Now Home to 100 Million 'Left-Behind Kids'

China Left-Behind Children

Migrant children play beside a polluted pool in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. According to official reports, over 140 million migrant workers in China have traveled from the countryside to big cities to try and earn a living. Education and the general development of migrant worker's children remains an issue in the country. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

China now has over 100 million "left-behind kids", or those who are growing up without a parent, accounting for about a third of the country's total population of children.

China's left-behind children are not really abandoned but are those whose parents are working away from home, according to Beijing Normal University professor Song Yinghui.

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At a seminar in Tianjin, Song said over 60 million children are left in rural areas by parents who are working in cities while 36 million children are left living in one city by parents who work in another city.

The 100 million "left-behind children", according to Song, now pose a great challenge to social management as the number has exceeded previous estimate of just 61 million

The estimate, however, is not conclusive and an official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, who attended the same seminar, said the government will conduct its own survey to determine the real number of "left-behind children" in China.

According to multiple surveys conducted by Chinese scholars and organizations, children left behind by their working parts are more prone to physical or sexual abused. They are also more at risk of committing suicide.

China's State Council released in February a circular that outlines the government's efforts to significantly reduce the number of "left-behind children" by 2020.

In the said circular, China's cabinet officially appointed the Ministry of Civil Affairs to lead the effort in reducing the population of "left-behind children".

However, an NGO founder stressed that China's "left-behind children" should not be confused as children in poverty because they actually are not suffering economic woes because their parents are working.

According to the NGO founder, China's poorest children are those whose parents are not working because they have chosen to stay in their villages with their family.

Liu Xinyu, founder of NGO On the Road to School, recommended that the government's approach to "left-behind children" should be sustained because the phenomenon exists due to more profound economic and social reasons.

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