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/ China/ SocietyExperts call for legislation on latchkey childrenUpdated: 2013-07-09 02:15By ZHOU WENTING ( China Daily)Comments Print Mail Large Medium  SmallChina needs legislation to stop parents leaving children home alone, a requirement made evident by the number of accidental deaths every year, legal and safety experts say.
Two accidents within hours of each other in Shanghai have again thrust child safety and parental care into the spotlight.Wang Jianzhong, who caught a boy who fell from a building’s fourth floor on July 1, thus saving his life, receives treatment at a hospital in Shanghai. Yang Yi / for China Daily On June 30, two girls aged 5 and 7, fell to their deaths from the window of a 13th-floor apartment in the citys Pudong New Area. The next morning, a 5-year-old boy also fell four floors from an apartment in Baoshan district, but was saved by an onlooker who caught him in his arms.
In both cases the victims were children of migrant workers who had been left alone while their parents were at work.
“It was the first day of summer break and I left my son at home with the windows locked and the air conditioning on,” said the father of the boy, who gave only his surname, Li. He is from Henan province.
Li and his wife were working at a wholesale fruit market at the time of the accident. “I didnt expect such a thing to happen,” Li added.
At least nine incidents of children falling from buildings have been reported since June 20, with four lives lost. Eight incidents occurred while the child was left alone.
“There is a blank space in our law when it comes to childcare,” said Yi Yi, who is in charge of marriage and family cases at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit organization, nearly 50,000 children in China die in accidents every year. At least one in four of these deaths are caused by accidental injuries, and nearly 45 percent happen in the home.
“Not every child is lucky enough to have someone there to reach out their arms and rescue them,” said Shen Hengde, who works with Zhong Hao Attorneys at Law in Beijing, referring to the incident in Baoshan district.
“We need more than just benevolence from the public. We need sound laws and systems,” he added.
The Law on the Protection of Minors and the Marriage Law make no mention of how a child should be cared for. Although Civil Law does state that guardians are responsible for protecting the rights of youngsters, “there are no detailed guidelines, and it doesnt talk about punishments for violators”, lawyer Yi said.
In the United States, most states ban parents from leaving children aged under 12 home alone.
“The laws (in some countries) emphasize the duty of parental care, and leaving a child who is too young to think logically alone is irresponsible,” Yi added.
The number of latchkey kids is large due to many households having two working parents who are often faced with the dilemma of leaving a child alone for part of the day to meet work obligations, experts said.
“For migrant residents who have difficulty in asking grandparents for help in taking care of their kids when theyre at work, government agencies should resort to social resources and shoulder the responsibility of providing care to ensure their safety,” said Xi Xiaohua, director of Capital Normal Universitys Juvenile Legal Social Work Research Center.
A report by the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau released on July 1 said there are about 5.6 million married migrant workers in the city, with an average of 1.5 children. Nearly 54 percent of their children are left behind in their hometowns.
“Most parents sweat their guts out for the sake of their kids,” said Liu Jing, who hails from Changzhou in Jiangsu province and has a 4-year-old daughter. “All those efforts are in vain if they lose their child due to neglect of care.”8.03KRelated StoriesExperts demand better child protection lawsMinistry drafts child welfare systemS China official jailed over child molestationBoys death focuses attention on child laborChina to enhance child-welfare programPhotoBritish Navy ship docks in ShanghaiWalking dog in SW ChinaFire breaks out at construction site in SW ChinaChildren in E China suffering because of smog Free lunch for city cleaners19-car pile-up kills 8 in SW ChinaFree reading and heatingMarathon beggar More China NewsGDP-obsessed mode put on holdN China province acts to control noise pollutionMan on trial over fatal bus attackPolice raid fake watch store in GuangzhouCold front to disperse haze in citiesChina eyes Internet governance co-op with ROKMore World NewsTwo French soldiers killed in C African RepublicSpanish journalist, photographer kidnapped in SyriaUkraine President ready for talks, riots continueJohn Kerry to visit Mideast, Vietnam, PhilippinesUS urged to overhaul surveillance lawsPyongyang sees major power changeMost ViewedTodays Top NewsExtradition deal with US key to nabbing fugitivesLi urges greater effort on reformsChina, Japan need constructive ideasGovt requested to plant GM cropsSession to discuss economic issuesBan on Chinese researchers clarifiedChina may expand property tax trials…Editors Picks8-year pay ordeal ends for 400 migrant workersNorth China Sea Fleet assembles for training Theyre in it for the thrillUkraine President ready for talks, riots continue World Cup mascot makes China debutKobe Bryant return spoiled as Raptors beat LakersHot TopicsA sailor from British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring tries to catch a mooring line to dock in the north side of the bund at Huangpu River in Shanghai December 10, 2013.Special CoverageIn memory of MandelaLis Euro-Asia trip to boost co-op Key CPC meeting to deepen reformSpecial: Chinas air defense zone triggers mixed responseVideoSlidePodcastPicturesPacific Alliance held investment talksTHE WEEK Dec 6: In your face!Cheer in masksArt students take protest to the mall
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