Government and Policy

Govt bodies join forces in fight against child begging

Updated: 2011-03-09 09:25

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The Ministry of Civil Affairs will cooperate with 18 government departments to crack down on child begging this year, Vice-Minister Dou Yupei told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Premier Wen Jiabao has urged the Ministry of Civil Affairs to submit advice to the State Council on helping children who are begging on the streets and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," Dou said.

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"But the premier never criticized us for not responding positively to the anti-trafficking campaign launched on micro blogs."

Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the initiator of the campaign, in January called for netizens to take snapshots of children they saw begging in the street and of other children they thought might have been kidnapped. The netizens could then post the photos on micro blogs in the hope that family members would see them.

The huge online campaign, the largest of its kind in China, achieved its first big breakthrough on Feb 8, when it helped to reunite a father with his 6-year-old son who had been missing for three years.

Premier Wen said during his online chat with netizens at the end of February that he had paid close attention to the continuing micro blog campaign.

Wen said there were many reasons why children sometimes turned to begging, including poverty and family issues. But he said none of those children should not be taken care of. And while it was a complicated task to help and rehabilitate child beggars, he said increased public attention and joint intervention from different government bodies will help to end the problem.

"We run an investigation and found poverty is the main reason," Dou said on Tuesday.

He said child begging was also related to various factors such as parental divorce, pressure in schools and human traffickers.

"The final solution should be based on strengthening social security and social assistance from local governments, and protecting children from irresponsible parents," he said.

The ministry has warned local governments in some regions where many homeless children come from, he said.

"During the next five years, we plan to build more county-level assistance centers in the regions with large numbers of homeless children, and provide psychological counseling, cultural education and skill cultivation in about 310 assistance centers that have been built in the last five years," he said.

The ministry has posted some assistance signs in public places for homeless children and provided medical treatment for those who are sick, he said.

"We also encourage citizens and professional non-government organizations to participate," he said.

However, he pointed out that under the law the ministry could only care for homeless children who voluntarily accept help.

"More than half of the homeless children on the streets have records for petty crime, and the ministry cannot force them to go to assistance centers when they refuse to do so," he said.


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