One third of Moldovan children are affected by “Parent Drain”
Lengthy absence of parents can lead to psychological and emotional development disorders in children and can affect their social relations and school performance
CHISINAU, Moldova 15 November 2007 – Migration is a relatively new phenomenon in the Republic of Moldova, but it has grown rapidly year on year. Because of poverty, hundreds of thousand of adults leave their homes and children and go abroad to earn a living.
According to studies implemented with the support of UNICEF and other international organisations, the percentage of Moldovan children who do not live with both parents has nearly doubled in recent years from 16 per cent in 2000 to 31 per cent in 2005.
Migration and its impact on children was the main topic of the national conference organised by UNICEF and the Moldovan Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child that took place on November 15 in Chisinau. The aim of the event was to create a favourable environment for discussions among the Government, international organisations, non-government organisations and academia and to propose solutions for the problem.
“The migration phenomenon in the Republic of Moldova is regarded more for its economic and demographic aspects and for intergovernmental relations and never from the viewpoint of its impact on the psychological and emotional development of children left without parental care,” said UNICEF Representative in Moldova, Ray Virgilio Torres.
“That is why through this conference we would like to contribute to the public debate about this phenomenon and to tackle all aspects of the problem—both positive and negative ones.”
The conference presented several studies and research by experts in the field who stated that migration was reaching worrying proportions. For instance, according to a study carried out by CBS AXA (a member of Gallup International), for 79 per cent of Moldovan families with children, remittances from abroad have contributed to improvements in the financial situation of the “household,” but at the same time the long absence of parents has psychologically and emotionally affected children left behind.
Another study based on actual cases, by a group of psychologists, showed that the lengthy absence of parents has devastating effects on children.
“Clinical evidence shows that parents’ leaving for abroad may cause neurotic disorders, depression, anxiety, language disorders, behavioural disorders, and nutritional disorders in children of preschool age,“ said psychologist Zinaida Bolea, one of the authors of the study.
“There are also many problems with adolescents who are left alone including waywardness, academic failure, anxiety and depression. Often parental absence leads to the early initiation of sexual activity, to dropping out of school and to antisocial behaviour,” Bolea continued.
Although the Ministry of Social Protection in Chisinau recognizes the seriousness of the problem, there are still no social mechanisms and policies in place that allow local authorities to monitor the situations of these children, to identify cases when they need support promptly, and to intervene with efficient social protection.
An important step towards improving the situation was the creation of a national network of social assistants in 2007. This system of protection has been established in towns and villages where it is most needed, especially by the children of migrant parents, and where professional intervention is the most efficient. With UNICEF support, 542 social assistants are currently employed in mayors’ offices. They are familiar with the problems facing children of migrants and are trained to cooperate with schools, kindergartens, family doctors and others.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information please contact:
Lina Botnaru, Media Offcier, UNICEF Moldova, tel. +373 22 22 00 34