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How to care for left-behind kids and parents

By Li Fangchao | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-10 08:58

How to care for left-behind kids and parents

Two left-behind children follow their teacher to school in a mountainous area of Jiangxi province. ZHUO ZHONGWEI/CHINA DAILY

A series of news headlines recently has prompted soul-searching on the care for senior citizens and children.

A new draft law on the protection of minors in Zhejiang province, East China, says parents who have left their children at home to work in places hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers away should contact their children at least once a month.

A 78-year-old woman in Sichuan province, Southwest China, recently took her four children to court for not visiting her regularly, and asked the court to pass a ruling to ensure the children do so. The court is yet to give its verdict.

And a nursing home for senior citizens in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in East China, has announced a 200 yuan ($29) award for people who visit their parents at the home more than 30 times in two months. The home claims the number of visits has risen sharply since then.

Such news is heartbreaking. Do parents-children ties have to be sustained by law and monetary incentives?

Although laws and policies are being used to remind people to fulfill their filial duties and parental responsibilities as parents, it is difficult to enforce the law often due to the lack of plaintiff and corresponding punishment, and the effects of monetary awards may not last long.

The Sichuan case is perhaps the first of its kind, for few parents would want to embarrass their children by suing them for failing to fulfill their filial duties. Equally important, even if children can visit their parents in nursing homes everyday, parents would not like to trouble them so much.

There are two thorny issues-left-behind children and empty-nest senior citizens, who to some extent are the victims of China's rapid urbanization.

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