In a video that is disturbing, to say the least, a 4-year-old boy can be seen smoking cigarettes.
After the clip went viral on social media, authorities in rural southern China, apparently, issued a “serious warning” to the grandparents of that child.
Their “left-behind” grandson has transformed into a chain smoker, while his parents seek work in another city. At such a young age, the child probably does not even know the kind of effects the addiction can inflict on his health.
The boy, who hasn't been named, reportedly picks up cigarette butts discarded by adults and smokes them.
In the footage, the boy can be seen lying on a bench and puffing cigarettes. The story has helped shed spotlight on the plight of China’s “left-behind” children.
Children belonging to low-income migrant worker families are usually left unsupervised as parents are busy looking for work in coastal cities.
Many parents are aware of the dangers their children can face when left on their own, but it seems like they don’t have much choice, given their low-income backgrounds. According to the Chinese government, there are more than 9 million left-behind children in the country.
But the All-China Women’s Federation’s puts the figure at 60 million children left behind by their parents, estimated from a survey last year. The parents of such children leave them with insufficient care if not in dire poverty.
Wentian deputy Communist Party secretary Zeng Xiong said local government officials paid a visit to the 4-year-old boy's family and issued a warning to the boy’s grandparents to take care of their grandchild.
Zeng said the boy was taken care of. However, he did not elaborate much on the situation.
“[He] has been smoking for a year or two, can’t quit,” said the child’s neighbor.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Carlos Barria