New rule to protect children with incompetent parents

City announces measures to ensure children at risk will be looked after, with failure to report such cases being punished.

A regulation to protect kids in Shanghai from incompetent parents takes effect today.

It covers minors under 18 at risk because their parents or guardians are absent or unable to look after them properly. Incompetence includes abuse, abandonment, and forcing children to beg or commit criminal acts.

“The regulation establishes a joint working mechanism and involves a number of government authorities as well as schools, kindergartens and medical institutions because these children are spotted in various venues like schools, hospitals and even streets,” said Tao Jiming, director of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau’s social welfare department.

Under the new regulation, schools, kindergartens, medical institutions, neighborhood or village committees and all other involved working units and staff must report to police or government authorities when they notice children who are without guardians, living alone, missing, or suffering from domestic violence and other kinds of injuries.

Failure to report will punished, according to the regulation.

After receiving a report, police must take immediate action and remove children who are injured, not being looked after, or whose safety is threatened.

Civil affairs authorities will then take over responsibility and assess the situation to see what assistance is required.

If there is no one willing to look after the children after three months at temporary shelters, civil affairs, police and other involved parties such as schools and relatives will be organized to discuss whether to make the children return to their guardians or remove their guardianship.

Last May, the city government released a guidance on enhancing the welfare and security of children in three categories — from poor families, disabled or with improper or absent guardians.

The new regulation complements that guidance, according to the bureau.

“It rules the responsibility of different parties involved, and ensures that the protection mechanism can work on the track,” said Tao.

Every sub-district in the city has designated a community worker whose duties include identifying children at risk and providing necessary assistance.

Children with improper or absent guardians can receive a 1,800 yuan (US$281.25) living cost each month from this year. A total of 216 children in the city have applied with 111 approved so far, the bureau said.

"Many of these children are looked after by their grandparents, many of whom have financial difficulties," said Jiang Rui, the bureau’s deputy director.

Special Reports
Top