Parental absence, child victimization, and psychological well-being in rural China

Mengtong Chen, Ko Ling Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Using cross-sectional data regarding 793 rural children aged 10–16 in Sichuan Province of China, the present study examined the preceding-year rates of seven forms of child victimization (physical assault, property crime, peer/sibling victimization, child maltreatment, sexual victimization, witnessing family violence, and exposure to community violence) and poly-victimization, and found children's victimization experiences increased as the degree of parental absence increased (from the presence of two biological parents, to parental migration and parental separation and divorce). Elevated levels of depression were also found among left-behind children and children of separated or divorced parents, compared to children living with both biological parents; and child poly-victimization added to the risk of child depression. Certain demographic characteristics (being a boy and younger) and parental factors were associated with child victimization in rural China. This study highlights the need for child protection in rural China, and in particular for parent-absent children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work described in this paper was fully supported by a grant from the Central Policy Unit of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (HKU 7001-SPPR-12).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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