Chinese mother tattoos phone number on mentally handicapped son’s arm after he keeps wandering away from home

Police find teenager beside a motorway after he sneaked out of his home in the early hours of the morning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 10:13pm

A teenager with serious mental disabilities was found wandering along a motorway in eastern China with his mother’s mobile phone number tattooed on his arm in case he became lost, local media reported.

Officers who found the boy walking on the side of a road that connects the cities of Wenzhou and Taizhou in Zhejiang province last Sunday also found that a second number had been tattooed on to his arm and then crossed out because the mother had changed her number, the news portal Shanghai Hotline reported.

The report said that the boy, who has not been named, had gone missing from home several times before.

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Yang Lixiao, the Wenzhou police officer who found the boy after being tipped off by drivers, was unable to get clear answers when he asked him his name and where he lived.

The officer realised that the boy had serious learning difficulties and when he found the number on the boy’s forearm, he rang it and spoke to the mother, surnamed Zou, who came to collect her son from the police station.

The boy had sneaked out of the family home at 3am while his parents, migrant workers from the impoverished southwestern province of Guizhou, were sleeping, the report said.

After wandering the streets he had apparently become lost and ended up on the motorway.

“I only put my mobile phone number on the child’s forearm in case he got lost so that anyone who found him could contact me,” the mother said.

There is no law in mainland China that prevents minors from being tattooed and parlours do not even need parental consent to carry out the procedure.

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Social media users generally praised the mother’s decision to get her son tattooed, hailing it as an act of maternal devotion.

“She doesn’t abandon her own child, which touched me very much. There is no doubt that a mother’s love is the most powerful thing on Earth,” one Weibo user said.

Police said that parents of children with learning difficulties should invest in a tracking device such as a smart armband with GPS to keep tabs on them.