One of the many things I noticed while in China was that kids are precious. Because of the One Child Policy, children are treated with great care, often becoming the “Little Emperors and Empresses” of the family. As a result of the One Child Policy and the cultural importance of passing on one’s name, boys have historically been preferred among the Chinese. This trend is dying out as many urban Chinese become exposed to international world views and leave behind strict traditional mindsets. But some Chinese still place a high value on sons and would give anything to have one, especially if their first child (and thus, only legal child) doesn’t measure up to expectations.
The New York Times recently reported on the kidnapping and selling of kids as another result of these traditional Chinese values. The video above does a great job of conveying this problem in rural China.
On another note, it is stories like these that fuel my belief in organizations like China Care, a non-profit organization that helps provide life-saving surgeries for disabled Chinese orphans. Many of these orphans are abandoned for the same reasons why children are stolen and sold. Because of the One Child Policy, the Chinese place a high value on healthy children. If it turns out that their child is disabled, there is a higher probability that the child will be abandoned. That’s where China Care comes in, and it’s a good thing that they’re there to help out, because the number one reason that children become orphaned in China is due to health issues or disabilities.
Unfortunately, social policies and traditional family beliefs in China have led to the existence of child trafficking of healthy boys and higher-than-average abandonment rates for disabled children.
Hopefully the Chinese government will turn its focus towards these issues and create a sustainable solution. Until then, we can only hope that news coverage of these tragedies will continue to draw attention to the problems.