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It's a long way home for abducted children

With a swollen, almost dark-purple arm, little Cheng Yuqiao was crying and struggling in a woman's arms as she sat at the Guangzhou Railway Station one day in May.

Passengers suspected kidnapping and called police. As it turned out, the woman, who was mentally unstable, was admitted to hospital. The 3-year-old boy received medical attention before being sent to the Guangzhou Welfare House.

Hoping to find the youngster's family, a hospital employee posted the boy's photograph on the Guangzhou Television Station's online forum (club.gztv.com). Netizens began a month-long search. Hundreds of people swapped information.

Eventually, the pieces fell into place: The woman at the railway station was actually the boy's mother. They were from a village in Southwest China's Sichuan Province. The boy had fallen and fractured his arm, and his mother had apparently suffered a mental breakdown during the journey to seek treatment. The family was finally reunited and returned home earlier this month.

In Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, 2-year-old Xue Yucheng disappeared when his mother suffered a mental breakdown in 2004. But this boy was not as lucky as Cheng Yuqiao; he hasn't been found. His family has printed 5 million leaflets in a desperate attempt to find their child.

It's not known if kidnappings have increased on the mainland because no nationwide data are available. But with media reports of children being stolen from hospitals, snatched by motorcycle riders, wrenched out of their mothers' arms and even abducted from homes, many parents are worried.

"We have to be on guard all the time," said Eva Deng, a Beijing mother, who launched a signature campaign to draw attention to missing children after hearing Cheng Yuqiao's story. She has already collected more than 2,000 signatures and plans to send the letter to Premier Wen Jiabao....

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