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The parents of 1 in 4 children work abroad

The left-at-home children need specialized support

| updated on 11/29/23 11:28 AM
Photo: Facebook /Petar Vitanov

One in four Bulgarian children are growing up without their parents because they are working abroad, MEP Petar Vitanov stated during a conference dedicated to the social consequences of European mobility and the children who get left at home. Vitanov cited data by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, which indicate that the problem is most severe in several regions of the country, one of them – Northwestern Bulgaria, where up to 60% of minors are left in the care of grandparents, relatives or even neighbours while the parents are working in other countries.

Petar Vitanov pointed out that these children face a number of behavior-related risks as they grow up, as well as risks regarding their future motivation as adults. What steps need to be taken is absolutely clear, but carrying them through is quite another matter, Petar Vitanov says in an interview with BNR-Vidin:
Petar Vitanov
“There are entire regions where such children account for more than 50% of all children. Obviously, grandmothers and grandfathers love their grandchildren very much, yet they are hardly likely to be able to meet the requirements the children have. According to expert data, this phenomenon leads to a deterioration in the condition of the children in many different ways. First, they start doing poorly at school. Quite a few of them have encounters with the juvenile delinquency commission, alcohol and drugs are also a frequent occurrence. Some of these children are actually well-off, but money cannot make up for all other things that are missing. Because of this, once they grow up, these children do not want to work, and this is one of the reasons why in Bulgaria there is such a high percentage of young people who neither work nor study.”

Being the poorest region of the EU, in Northwestern Bulgaria the problem is very visible. One of the most logical steps that can be taken to overcome it is to improve the welfare of the people.

“There are data that if the average wages in Bulgaria constitute approximately 70% of average European levels, migration would stop of its own accord. We are still at the level of 55% of the average European incomes, so we have to step up the process of convergence and catching up,” Petar Vitanov says and adds that that is easier said than done.

There is a way out of this situation, the MEP says, but the solution to this problem is in the hands of the state authorities – they must promote economic activity in certain regions.

We know that one in four children is being looked after by a relation instead of the parents, but there are no precise data who these children are and where they are so the necessary support can be targeted, comments Plamena Nikolova, expert at the National Network for Children.