WSJ China Real Time Report: The Vulnerability of China’s Left-Behind Children

At the end of January, I was visiting my aunt in Florida and the two of us spent a lot of time talking about what I would be doing once I finish my PhD this year. I said that I was planning to focus on freelance writing and a couple of bigger projects I have in the works. She had an idea: “You know who you should write for? The Wall Street Journal! You’d be great there.” I, of course, laughed and said that I’d love to write for the WSJ, but it’s kind of hard to get your foot in the door.

And then not even two weeks later, I got an email from a reporter with the Journal in Beijing asking if I’d like to start contributing on a semi-regular basis to their blog, the China Real Time Report. This is further proof that my aunt always knows best.

I’ll be writing for CRT once or twice a month (maybe more after this dissertation is finished … ), in columns focused on providing historical context to current events and also doing interviews with authors of new China books. My first post for CRT just went up at the site; it discusses the current anxiety about China’s “left-behind children” (rural kids whose parents leave them in the countryside when they go to the city to find work) and how it echoes worries about child welfare in the late 1940s:

An estimated 61 million children live apart from their parents in China today, remaining in the countryside with grandparents while their mothers and fathers stream into cities and factories looking for work. Often left to their own devices, they are an easy target for attackers: Various studies indicate that a shockingly high percentage of assault cases involve left-behind girls—in the range of 90% in some areas of Guangdong province. But sexual predation is not the only problem that left-behind children face. Local and foreign news websites are littered with stories of left-behind children being kidnapped by human traffickers, dying in dumpsters and committing suicide.

Read the rest of the column here.

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