Child abductions have skyrocketed in recent years. For now, the Chinese government has not been able to stop it.
CGTN’s Han Peng spoke to one family devastated by losing their child.
Families coping with child abduction in ChinaChild abductions have skyrocketed in recent years. For now, the Chinese government has not been able to stop it. CGTN’s Han Peng spoke to one family devastated by losing their child.
For 20 years, Du Shufeng refuses to give up searching for her lost son. She blamed herself for his disappearance, saying it was her fault that brought tragedy to the whole family.
“I was buying vegetables, and left my 3-year-old son playing outside the store. I came back only a few minutes later, and couldn’t find him again. He was the only son of our family. I can’t face the family anymore,” said Du.
The couple later gave birth to a second son, but Du’s relationship with that child grew strained over her long absences from the family.
“I traveled to many cities with this suitcase. I’ve printed my son’s photo and my contact on it. Sometimes, I found people behind me were taking pictures. I really appreciate them,” Du said.
Before they lost their son, the rural couple moved into a nearby city and started a small business there. But over the past twenty years, the family returned to poverty, selling almost everything to cover Du’s travel costs.
“I met many other parents on my way. They lost their children, too. They are all like us. Everyone keeps searching, no matter the cost. We share the photos to each other and brought them with us, hoping at least one of us could one day find the child,” said Du.
Media estimates that around 20,000 children in China are abducted and sold every year. That’s 400 every week. And among them, only one out of every thousand can be found and returned.
Du Shufeng and other parents were asking for help from Shentuxia, a Beijing-based non-government organization. The NGO has covered some of their travel costs with public donations. But it has a much bigger agenda.
“We plan to set up a Chinese version of the Amber alert system, with the help of new technologies such as mobile apps on the smartphones,” said Li An, the founder of Shentuxia.
The system started in the U.S. twenty years ago. It sent alerts on TVs, internet, and mobile phones to people in surrounding areas. The alert comes instantly after a child has been reported lost. Despite criticism over false alarms, most of the lost children reported through the system are successfully recovered. But Li also said an Amber system could not solve the root cause.
“China has a very high standard for child adoption, which most rural families cannot reach. Some turn to human traffickers to buy a child abducted from other families. The law only punishes human traffickers,” Li said.
The NGO hopes an alert system may help the victims and avoid a lifetime of heartbreak.