Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Society must act now to protect minors

By Wang Yiqing (China Daily) Updated: 2013-06-28 08:33

Legal action is the last thing we turn to when parents neglect or abuse children, and we cannot rely solely on law to protect children. International practice shows sound social and legal systems - including mandatory reporting of irresponsible or abusive parents to the authorities, social and community family support, compulsory parental education and laws to protect minors - are crucial to preventing Nanjing-like tragedies.

The entire society, especially parents, should realize that minors' safety and healthy development is protected by law. So a mandatory reporting mechanism should be introduced in China. And people should be educated about the importance of reporting irresponsible and abusive parents to the authorities.

Parenting doesn't come naturally to some people. Therefore, residential communities should provide necessary support to such people and make them aware of the legal responsibilities of guardianship. Most importantly, a mechanism should be established to supervise guardianship and when parents neglect or abuse children, the authorities should transfer their custody to children's homes which should be legally set up.

Guangdong province issued a draft "Regulation on the Protection of Minors" in May soliciting public opinion. The draft stipulates that parents and guardians should not leave children below 10 years, who need special care, alone. The regulation is a good step toward protecting minors and may help parents appreciate the legal responsibilities that come with guardianship.

There indeed are a lot of difficulties to overcome before minors can be effectively protected. But as adults, it is our responsibility to ensure that tragedies like Nanjing do not recur and for that the authorities have to do everything it takes to set up a proper mechanism to supervise parents and establish legal children's homes.

The author is a writer with China Daily.


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