The way in which the public and the authorities are responding to the tragic deaths of five children found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in a dustbin on Nov 16 in the city of Bijie, Southwest China's Guizhou province, provides food for thought amid our deep sorrow.
Instead of waiting for the true circumstances to be revealed, some people immediately pointed their fingers at the local government, accusing it of a lack of concern for rural children.
The local government then dismissed some people from their positions, including the principal of the school where the children were supposed to study, in response to public pressure.
Yet, judging from what has been revealed, the children's deaths had little, if anything, to do with the school. Teachers from the school visited the homes of the children, aged 9 to 13, many times after they dropped out of school to try and persuade them to return.
Finding out whether any dereliction of duty had a role in this tragedy should of course be part of the investigation, but pointing the finger of blame before knowing the whole story will not help children in need.
The parents of the five children had little contact with them recently. So far it has been confirmed the fathers of four of the children were migrant workers in Shenzhen. Instead the responsibility for raising the children fell on grandparents or relatives, who were unable to provide these children with the communication and care they needed.
Unfortunately, this is all too common.
A care center for vagrant children in Kunming, capital of neighboring Yunnan province, rescued more than 2,000 children from 2008 to 2010, 96 percent of them were from rural areas.
And a joint investigation by the youth league and local women's and children's working committee in Hunan province in 2009 found that 57 percent of left-behind children in rural areas had psychological problems.
This tragedy is a wake-up call that something needs to be done to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers, so they can settle in the cities where they work and enjoy the same rights as their urban counterparts. This would enable them to have their children live with them.
This should be where people point their fingers if they want to prevent such a tragedy happening again.
(China Daily 11/21/2012 page8)