On the afternoon of June 24, 2019, Professor Guo Shenyang initiated the IHarbour Lectures Sociology Series with his lecture Social Psychological Wellbeing of Left-behind Children in Rural China, in which he explained the issue of left-behind children in rural China in the process of urbanization.
The term "Left-behind children" refers to children living in remote rural areas while their parents work far from home. Those children belong to one of two situations: both parents move to other places or one parent works outside and the other parent stays at home without income. Professor Guo Shenyang said that China's left-behind children are a special, large group scattered in different areas. Many people believe these children are at risk for delinquent, aggressive behavior because of their parents' absence and lack of parental guidance during their growing up and social development. Professor Guo’s research mainly focuses on two questions: Does the left-behind experience cause negative psychological influence to the children? Do left-behind children have a reduced ability in dealing with social information and are they more aggressive in than other children?
To answer these questions, an XJTU research team under the leadership of Professor Guo Shenyang went to Jingyang County, Shaanxi province for the “Let’s Be Friends (LBF)” program. The Shaanxi LBF program is an investigative program and a serious scientific experiment for behavioral intervention of children aged 8~10 based on theories of developmental psychology and intervention studies. According to data from a large random sample and accurate analysis using a measurement model, Professor Guo found that the left-behind children received only slightly lower scores in aggressive behavior and the ability to deal with social information, which means that left-behind children fare no worse than other children.
At the end of the lecture, Professor Guo pointed out that the left-behind children are a special, vulnerable group in China. Healthy development of this group affects the wellbeing of the children’s future, thus more resources are required to conduct related scientific studies. Researchers and policy makers should neither ignore the social problems that the left-behind children are facing, nor should they exaggerate their misfortune, particularly, it is unacceptable to link these children to the commitment of crimes.