In China, the rural population is often forced to leave their hometown and become migrant workers in far-away industrial cities to make a living. Due to their financial hardship, they have no choice but to leave their underage children behind with relatives, to take them to orphanages, or to abandon them entirely without reliable care or supervision. In addition to that the Chinese Hukou system is even prohibiting parents to resettle together with their families by denying their children access to the welfare and educational system at their urban place of work.
As a result, these so called ‘left behind children’ usually get to see their parents only once a year for a couple of days during the Chinese New Year festival. The separation from their parents leads to an alienation from these, with drastic effects: ‘left behind children’ have mostly a less pronounced self-esteem. They are more likely to suffer from psychosomatic disorders and are more likely to quit school early.