• The inability to pay the bills is one of the reasons why children are abandoned at hospitals.

The inability to pay the bills is one of the reasons why children are abandoned at hospitals. (Photo : Reuters)

A group of concerned citizens called for stricter punishment against child abusers including those who abandon their children.

Shanghai Women's Federation issued a statement on Jan. 20, Tuesday, calling on the government to give administrative or criminal punishments to parents and guardians who abandon their children.

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Between 2009 and 2013, 144 children were abandoned at 10 local hospitals. Of those, 14 were found to have at least one parent from Shanghai, 61 were the offspring of migrant workers, and 69 were of unknown lineage. Eleven abandoned children are currently living in the city's hospitals, Shanghai Daily reported.

One of the many reasons why the children end up being abandoned is that some parents leave their babies in hospitals because they do not have the financial capability to raise them, or others had unexpected pregnancies, an official said.

The federation suggested that parents who leave their children at hospitals should be required to leave copies of their identification cards. They also added that hospital officials should contact the police to alert them in case a child was abandoned by their parents without leaving identification.

For the police, the group said that the cops should educate parents and give punishments to those who abandon their children. With the use of ID cards, the police should be able to locate the parents and return the children to their custody.

For a first or second offense, parents should be given an administrative penalty, but if they get caught a third time, they should face criminal liabilities, according to the report from Shanghai Daily.

An employee from the children's hospital disclosed that even if they write down the names of the parents, their address and phone numbers, the hospital cannot force them to show their identification cards because they do not have the legal authority to do so.