Chengdu, one of China's biggest cities, is the capital of Sichuan province in the heart of China. It is the economic, political and educational centre of this area.
Recent growth in Chengdu has attracted many people, mostly from rural areas, to come to live in the city in search of a better life. However, the reality in the urban sprawl is very different and life is full of hardship. Many families live in precarious homes with little access to basic infrastructure such as health care or education. Children growing up in these conditions are often at risk.
Since 1997, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Chengdu.
When a family moves from a rural area to the bigger cities, they are assigned temporary status, which restricts their access to a range of services, which include healthcare, housing funds, and unemployment insurance.
A 2020 census recorded 376 million domestic migrants in China. Children from low-income migrating families have a high incidence of sickness and malnutrition. All of these children are very vulnerable as they struggle to keep safe. Some local governments prohibit migrant children from accessing quality education and from participating in college entrance exams.
Although there is a lack of Chinese national data on child protection, in UNICEF surveys conducted since the early 2000s a large number of children had reported to have experienced physical, psychological and sexual violence. Child protection policies exist but local authorities struggle to enforce them.
One way in which children are at risk is through new technologies. By 2018 estimates, 169 million children aged 6 to 17 have access to the internet in China. This has resulted in many children, especially those without social support systems, becoming vulnerable to exploitation and abuse online.