Campaign aims to bring vagrant children home

Updated: 2011-09-01 07:15

By He Dan and Cang Wei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Chinese authorities will prohibit child begging and performing on the streets and have pledged to send all vagrant children home, according to an upcoming campaign.

With the aim of returning vagrant children to normal lives, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has ordered a national search for vagrant children, who are often kidnapped and coerced by criminal gangs into stealing and begging.

Dou Yupei, deputy minister of civil affairs, said on Tuesday at a conference that civil affairs authorities will cooperate in the campaign with public security departments and local communities.

However, specific dates for the campaign have yet to be settled, Zeng Wei, a publicity official from the ministry, said on Wednesday.

In recent years, many children have been kidnapped and forced to beg and steal for a living for various reasons, including their poor living conditions in underdeveloped regions, domestic violence and a lack of legal guardians, said Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Once found, vagrant children will be taken care of by civil affairs departments and aid organizations, Dou said. They will be placed in care homes or welfare institutions if their guardians cannot be found.

He also urged local governments to learn from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which has rescued and returned home more than 200 children since April.

Vowing to bring home all vagrant children from inland cities, authorities from the autonomous region dispatched police officers to search for vagrant children in 19 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Xiao Rui, director of a child rescue center in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, said his organization is now accommodating about 200 vagrant children whose parents either cannot be found or who refuse to take back their children because of poverty.

He said the center has arranged physiological consultations for all of the rescued children and enrolled them in schools.

The center offers children older than 16 lessons in computer skills and handicraft work to help them to find jobs, Xiao said.

The government should make sustainable efforts to help vagrant children instead of mounting a short-term campaign, said Turenjan, a sociologist from the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences.

He explained that criminal gangs who kidnapped or forced children to beg or perform on the streets might find a secret place to "lie low until the wind blows over". Once the government loosens its supervision, though, they will probably resume their misdeeds.