With Children's Day approaching, the public is paying more attention to the plight of left-behind children.
"Their plight is a deep wound in the Chinese society," said Wu Xiaohui, a rural school teacher in Hunan.
Eleven years into his job in the remote village school, Wu said he is familiar with the left-behind children's agony. "They appear to be strong and carefree, but I know they are fragile at heart."
With their parents away, many of Wu's students babysit their younger siblings. Some even take their baby brothers and sisters to school.
Noted sociologist Wang Kaiyu said the remedy to these children's plight is to narrow the urban-rural gap and create more jobs in the countryside to keep parents at home.
On the other hand, Beijing University professor Lu Jiehua suggests cities grant migrant children equal access to public schools, medication and other social security services.
In many rural provinces, governments and individuals have moved to improve the living conditions of the left-behind children.
Retired teacher Zhang Bingzhu, 72, has opened a free caring center for left-behind children from his home village in Chaohu city of eastern China's Anhui province, one of the major sources of migrant laborers. Over the past five years, he has cared for dozens of children, reading them stories, helping them with school work and playing games with them.
The provincial government of Anhui plans to open at least 1,000 centers for left-behind children in the coming three years. These places will have TVs, books, magazines, sports facilities and phones for children to call their parents at anytime.