Society

Becoming a Peaceful Society

Peace

Table of Contents
 Table of Contents 2
Executive Summary 3
Introduction 3
Methodology 3
Overview 4
National, Regional and International Implications 4
Traditional Cultural Background 6
Objective 7
Parent Café: In-School Centers Supporting Parent-Child Relationship Recovery 8 Gift Boxes for Teenagers and Parents 10
Innovation 11
Impact 12
Potential Development 12
The Power Of Technology 12
Birth of A New Project 13
Development and Advocacy 13
Case Studies 13
Case Study 1 13
Case Study 2 14
Recommendations 15
Conclusion 16
Acknowledgements 17
References 18
 Executive Summary
Introduction

Every child has the right to choose and shape his or her own future; however, while many families place a high value on education, not all parents are able to actively support their children’s academic and personal development. Western China, for example, has been heavily affected by economic change and urbanization forcing many parents to abandon their provincial life and their children while chasing better career opportunities in other places. Economic pressure, in many cases, results in the gradual dissolution of the family structure leaving the young feeling emotionally and physically abandoned. In this project, some teachers and psychological counselors examine the importance of counseling and instruction in addressing emotional strain and explore the different methods to re-engage young learners and aid them in reaching their full academic potential. As a result, this project has collectively reached and assisted more than 80,000 teenagers, teachers, and parents, and will probably become an effective educational policy.

Methodology

Three key sources were used to collect data for this project. They are as follows:

  1. The analysis of documentation and research relevant to parent-child education and left-behind children during the past five years
  2. . The various paper and media interviews of key stakeholders representing various non-governmental organizations, private entities and bureaucratic agencies
  3. Around three case studies conducted and accomplished in schools — which are proven to be pertinent to parent-child education and left-behind children

Overview

National, Regional and International Implications

According to various nationwide and regional polls, parents have traditionally played a key role in the academic performance of their children. From the first PISA 2000 results, we know that family-related effects on student’s performance are almost twice as strong as those educational institutions( OECD 2001:312f). Depending on the particular survey, Chinese left-behind children are suffering from significant mental health problems, such as depression, psychosocial dysfunction, emotional dysregulation, and behavior problems (Fan et al., 2010; Wang et al., 2015b). It has been indicated that approximately 30 percent of the left-behind children have a mental illness (Liu et al., 2014) and a lack of a normal family upbringing, care, education (Fan et al., 2010), and parent-child communication (Davison and Birch, 2001; Hahm et al., 2003) are important factors causing the mental illness in left-behind children.

In China, economic development and urbanization have brought about changes in the familial relations between parents and their children. Financial responsibility and economic pressure have forced most ruralite parents to leave their children with relatives to pursue greater opportunities in cities (e.g. Phillips, Carroll, & Der, 2015; Spinhoven et al., 2011). This has resulted in the gradual dissolution of the usual tight-knit family structure, causing children to suffer emotional and physical abandonment leading to more profound complications. A number of studies have revealed that compared with the general population, left-behind children are more likely to exhibit psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness, depression, emotional instability, and social anxiety (Zhao et al., 2015). Studies have shown that mental illness has been a common plight of most left-behind children in China. Depression, psychosocial dysfunction, emotional dysregulation and other behavioral issues have been affecting approximately 30 percent of them (Cheng and Sun, 2015). The lack of usual necessities, such as normal upbringing, parental guidance, daily conversations, is pointed out as the primary culprit (Chen, Wang, & Wang, 2009). Rural areas in China have been heavily affected by economic change and urbanization. An estimated 61 million children are “left behind” by their migrant parents (All—China Women’s Federation, 2013). Compared with their peers living in cities, left-behind children are plagued by subtle to serious mental problems (Chen et al., 2009; Cheng and Sun, 2015; He et al., 2012; Jia, Shi, Cao, Delancey and Tian, 2010; Jia and Tian, 2010; Su, Li, Lin, Xu and Zhu, 2013). China’s strict household registration system makes this situation irreversible since the system has become a device for community and terrestrial control enforcing an apartheid structure (Song and Yu-Ling, 2016). This refutes agriculturalists the same privileges and assistances enjoyed by town residents. This issue has struck a note to most people yet it has been left unsolved. This continues to plague families due to a paucity of professional help and mental health care leading to severe social issues among teenagers. This worsens since Chinese parents remain incognizant of their children’s mental health.

Suffering from extreme familial and social pressure, most young generation in China, especially left-behind children, become prone to depression. In most Chinese households, parents put high expectations on their children’s academic performance neglecting their kids’ psychological health (Jia and Tian, 2016). The scarcity of professional assistance and mental health care has led to severe social issues, including teenage suicide and school violence.

 

Traditional Cultural Background

While officially concluded in 1905, the Imperial Examination tradition has had a substantial influence on the value and respect that the Chinese place upon academic learning. Additionally, students have to work hard to compete for limited resources. Statistics from a Stanford study show severe regional inequality — in Shanghai, a very wealthy and developed city, 84% of high school graduates go to university. However, in the countryside, only less than 5% of high schoolers will go to university. And in even poorer areas, less than 40% of the students even make it to high school. But while we invest in academic achievement, we have come to neglect children’s mental health.

Psychological counseling in China generally, and Yunnan province specifically, is a vastly underrepresented part of the educational system. In mainland China, psychology education sector has a well-organized structure spanning from university training to field actions. The whole sector gets funds from various industries but the government support contributes the most. This project aims to improve teaching within this structure. To explore the integration of university course and its education system in psychology, they work with various professional teachers in providing gender and psychological sensitivity training to students – which will inculcate professionalism directly influencing their future work. To explore policy advocacy, we need to make the social impact by showing the government how psychology and gender work can greatly contribute to addressing public concerns. Since the major resource of education is still under the supervision of the government, the government’s preference and priorities have a far-reaching impact on the direction of psychology service in China. This can be influenced through the development of governmental cooperation.

 Objective

In order to tackle the aforementioned problems, this project explores the topic: “Mental Health Education of Chinese Children, principally the left-behind children in the rural areas, who are suffering from emotional deprivation.” Since the Chinese education system focuses more on testing rather than learning, parents end up sending their children to various training programs while ignoring themselves as one of the most powerful information resources. In point of fact, parents are irreplaceable as educators in both quintessential and atypical school conditions. As a form of advocacy, this project aims to achieve the following:

  1. Effective and sustainable ways to develop psychology-related courses, which will help raise awareness and empower teens and their parents.
  2. Development of long-term cooperation with the government in the hopes of creating greater network and influence. In this way, policies will be able to adopt school curricula that will encourage parental involvement, which can cultivate mentally healthy children.
  3. Integration of education and psychology as well as the closure of the gap between parents and their kids, poor families and rich families, etc.

Parent Café: In-School Centers Supporting Parent-Child Relationship Recovery

The Parent Café (PC) is but an idea and a tool of parental involvement. It is a facilitator of tools, training, and curricula that create a new culture of participation for parents facing and responding to emotional deprivation. It places the beneficiary at the heart of each program and works with them to co-create, manage, and expand impact. Parent Café is a cost-effective and replicable childhood mental health development program that empowers left-behind children’s parents to implement didactic learning in order to support the parent-child communication. Parent Café aims to achieve the following:

  1. Improve the socio-emotional, cognitive, and physical health of primary and middle school left-behind children.
  2. Build the capacity of left-behind parents to provide quality childhood education balancing academic and psychological needs
  3. Provide an emotionally safe and trustful environment for parents to learn and reflect on their parenting d. Create an official, sustainable and scalable early childhood education model for left behind populations.

Parent Café applies the following strategies:

  1. School Cooperation — Chinese parents put greater effort into improving their children’s grades than building the personal relationship with them. Communication turns into a difficult task due to a lack of professional knowledge and communication skills; however, it’s still undeniable that parents are the strongest support for teenagers during their growth period. With this, the Parent Café gives parents a school-based curriculum that connects them with other parents and guardians through empathy-based and developmental tools, activities, and resources approved by national standards.
  2. Training, Curricula, and Workshops — Borrowing curricula from international organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF and localizing them to suit the culture and needs of the Chinese families. Different curricula and workshops called “Connection” are designed for parents and adolescents participating together in the program. Each workshop is stand alone with a specific focus but taken together as a comprehensive curriculum. These can be taught intensively on weekends via online or classroom platform. The connection is a five-week, weekly curriculum that can be used with and tailored to a diversity of preschool philosophies.
  3. Promotion of Mental Health Education through Experience — Since the program is highly interactive, it uses simulation, role play, and other experiential activities to help parents not only gain scientific knowledge about adolescent development but also become empathetic and supportive parents. Parents are required to commit to a series of five to eight lessons. Drama, theater, and music are all incorporated into the program’s teaching methods, which has helped children improve their mental health and self-confidence.
  4. Build Long-term Community — All participating parents must build relationships with other

participants and create a support network. Those who have been through the program can/ may volunteer for future courses and serve as mentors of other parents. e. Promote Curricula in Academic Institutions — Influence school policies to adopt curricula that encourage parental involvement and cultivate the mental health of students. Hopefully, this can create a long-term impact on the state level.

Gift Boxes for Teenagers and Parents

To develop continuity, a series of boxes, called ‘Gift Boxes from Parents’ has been created to develop/improve children’s emotion, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, resilience, communication skills, etc. Each box becomes a linkage between separated family members. Despite the distance, each box requires parents and children to accomplish the same tasks as they were together. Clear guidelines/instructions are laid out to accomplish numerous ‘homework’. This is developed to build an effective peer network in the family. Other than that, WeChat, China’s most popular social media application is utilized to encourage communication between parents and their children, building a strong support network.

 

Materials and Methods:

  1. a. Research strategy

– Review policy documents and cases on adolescent psychological problems and gender-related issues in China during the past five years

– Understand the characteristics of the case to identify important categories

  1. Study selection

– Studies selected were original research studies published in Chinese or English

– Studies selected were observational studies comparing depression of left-behind children with the general population of children in China

– Studies selected had complete original data, including sample size, measurement factor average scores, and standard deviation c. Experimentation – Different variables, including individual and household-level factors, identified the risk factors.

– The involved pilot and comparison pilots

Innovation

The program is developed to ‘Empower Parents’. Parents are irreplaceable and crucial to their child’s growth. Being a vital part of society, they have the power to influence national policies. Other than that, the program is used to cultivate a network of people with the same experience, struggles, and aspirations. Allowing them to meet will truly help in keeping long-term mutual interests and action. In addition, the program aims to provide thought-provoking yet fun activities. (e.g. gift boxes) It goes away from the usual monotonous and strict courses. It makes learning enjoyable for both parents and their kids.

First, it’s developed to ‘Empower Parents’. Parents are irreplaceable and important during teenagers growth. Moreover, parents involvement can influence the policy’s change, which is a high-level promotion.

Second, it’s used to cultivate a network. This project spends the time to build a long-term support network during parents peer group, encourage them to share their experiences and even to tutor each other. It will truly help them in keeping long-term, mutual interests, and educational activities.

Third, magic boxes are surprising and thought-provoking. Since boxes were made to be fashionable, funny and interesting, they can easily catch the attention of parents and their children. Compared with other strict courses, boxes are suitable for clients’ psychological development. It provides something fun and not dull.

Fourth, it influences scientific knowledge of parents. Having this kind of boxes will aid parents in understanding the science behind their children’s development and behavior.

Impact

As a result of our programs, there are more than 80,000 parents and children are trained and employed to adapt, lead and support programs in their communities. In addition to that, the impact of the parents’ participation has influenced the education system and is continuously promoting mental health awareness.

As the project progresses, its objectives continue to grow further. These includes the following: to promote the integration of primary psychological education and parents’ awareness; to promote primary education to provide better service to migrants and other related population, including left-behind children and youth with sexuality issues and discriminate gender perspective; to identify factors that determine exclusive psychological factors among left-behind children in China, and whether these associations differ from parental deprivation; and to promote the involvement of the constabulary in the protection and guidance of delinquents.

Potential Development

The Power Of Technology

This project is a hybrid of academics, business, and real social change. As the organization grows significantly, scaling up and innovating are both undeniably big factors for its continued success. The program ensures that every child, regardless of their backgrounds, will be given the same opportunities. Since technology has an immense influence on most children, it has provided them with two sides: self-empowerment and risk exposure.

Birth of A New Project ‘Meet Your Future; Meet Your Potential’ is a new project that aims to give the young Chinese people a broadened view of their possible future, which can help them pursue their passion and strive in the field they’re best at. With the birth of this project, an online platform can connect teenagers in China and abroad. It hopes to foster not only cultural understanding but also the personal development of the people involved.

Development and Advocacy

It is a must to hold a policy advocacy based on the previous results of the program. This will also help maintain the goal of promoting social change in China with the influence of state-level policymakers.

Case Studies

Case Study 1

There are three different students in this project who can represent a different background. The first student is Xiao Fang. Fang’s parents work in a bigger city far away from home to find a lucrative job to support her education. She now lives with her grandparents, who rarely communicate with her due to the generation gap. The second student is Xiao Hua. Hua’s parents moved to the city for work and brought Xiao Hua with them. Having quite a demanding job, they fail to have time for Hua. The third student is Ming. Ming’s family is rather wealthy. His parents pay a lot of money to send him to all kinds of afterschool classes, but they rarely pay him nurturing attention

All of them have one thing in common: lack of time and support from parents.

After two years in the program, it’s concluded that positive results have been accomplished for the three students and their parents. The usual barriers to communication are removes and most of them feel 80% more confident than before. This has also allowed the parents to change their usual communication preference.

On average, parents communicate with their children once a week, but it has progressed to once in two days. The use of boxes has also resulted in an increase in teenager’s psychological development from 20% to 50% – which has a significant impact on their mental health. Such boxes also showed positive results on these 3 teenagers; they have an increased 20% on the positive psychological factor. This means they have greater chances of developing self-confidence, resistance, and other optimistic qualities. On one hand, the rate of bad psychological factors declined to 30%, which means most of them have decreased depressive feelings, self-injuries, etc.

Case Study 2

Six years ago, the program is just a mere psychological support program spearheaded by three psychological teachers. The main purpose was just to interact with various students from different academies and even communicate with delinquents to understand their issues and the current state. After conducting research, it was concluded that their usual problems reflect the values instilled in their households. In spite of improvements in some programs, old habits die hard. They go back to what they used to be. During the program, it was also concluded that parents were as problematic as their kids. Based on an interview with a mother of a 15-year old girl, her daughter would just lock herself in her room ignoring her parents’ plea and would distract herself with mobile surfing and chatting while in the house. While the mother was worried about her daughter’s passive-aggressive attitude as well as poor academic performance, different punishments were seen to be necessary yet proven to be useless during the process.

After such, a highly interactive program was developed to provide help to these struggling parents. Activities such as simulation, role play, and other experiential activities helped parents gain scientific knowledge about adolescent development and assisted them towards effective parenting. During these lessons, a support network has been created encouraging parents to volunteer mentor and volunteer in the proceeding programs. Due to the program’s effective methods, the government has pledged its support and cooperation in developing credibility, better branding, technical expertise, and building a network of resources. This has opened numerous possibilities for state-level cooperation, adoption of national mental health course, and the like.

Recommendations

Placing the children and parents at the heart and center of decision making in education is a crucial action that must be considered. This gives voice to parents in providing feasible and well-balanced solutions to familial issues and helps them recognize the current situation of the family – this can foster better understanding, acceptance and stronger relationship between the children and their parents. Not only that, it gives greater attention to them in discussing relevant and timely matters. For example, technology as a powerful influence that empowers children yet also exposes them to new and evolving risks.

Another issue that should be taken into account is closing the income gap between urban and rural workers while ensuring that parents are empowered in the process. This is the major culprit of parental detachment. By addressing such issue, the reason for abandoning children will be eliminated. Children will be nurtured physically, mentally and emotionally that can make them a productive part of the society. Lastly, investing in Early Childhood Education (ECE) can help reduce inequality and break the cycle of poverty. Since education can be the key to develop equally opportunities for people regardless of their background, it must be given much attention. This project provides a big opportunity to create transformation at an worldwide level influencing existing policies. The team is particularly captivated to bring together the three areas of psychological education, governments, and mass media to commence worldwide innovation and impact. Nowadays, we shouldn’t be limited to being agents of education, but also of strategy, promotion, and social entrepreneurship.

Acknowledgments

At this moment, I am reminded of many things and many people: my students, family, friends, colleagues, everyone who has supported me along the way. I am especially reminded of my grandfather. He is 78 this year, and he has been a teacher for more than 5 decades. He is my inspiration and my role model. Throughout his teaching career, he experienced the founding of the People’s Republic, the Reform and Opening Up and witnessed the transformation of my country. They were tumultuous times, but he stayed committed to his students and their families and became a stabilizing presence for them. I became a teacher because of my grandfather because I wanted to bring my students and families peace in the midst of anxiety, and stability in the midst of chaos.

In my country, I have seen low-income families struggling to adapt to the rapid economic growth. I have seen our children yearning for their parents’ company. I have seen teenagers feeling lost under academic pressure and family expectations. I have seen hundreds of thousands of Chinese teachers investing their talents and passion into supporting students. I have seen my government and other institutions working hard to improve the quality of education. We all have one common goal — to help our children grow.

In the past years, I have done many things out of my love for teaching and passion for adolescent psychology. But even more importantly, I am just one representative of the hundreds of thousands of teachers silently serving their students and families. During this year as we discuss global cooperation and citizenship, I believe that the challenges we face in education today in each of our countries are more similar than different. As educators from around the world work together, I hope that we can bridge the gap between wealthy families and poor families and make quality education a reality for all. I hope that all parents will be able to walk alongside their children as they grow and not be absent.

Together, we will all grow.

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Parent Café:

Encouraging Tolerance and Peace

Through Parent-Child Education with Focus On

Left-Behind Children

Boya Yang

East China Normal University