The first survey to shed light on the level of violence against and among children in China suggests it is widespread, growing and has a lasting negative impact on their lives. The findings were revealed at the National Consultation on Violence Against Children in Beijing Monday.
"There is a clear association between history of childhood maltreatment and mental health," said Chen Jingqi, the associate professor at Peking University who headed the research.
"Young people with multiple abuse experiences had significantly lower academic scores and higher levels of depression and suicidal intention than other students," said Chen. "Sometimes, school or home can become a dangerous place for children and teenagers."
The study was sponsored by the All-China Women's Federation, UNICEF and Peking University and is part of a global initiative spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Involving more than 3,500 college students over two months in the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hubei, Shanxi, Heilongjiang and the municipality of Beijing, the survey found 54.6 percent of boys and 32.6 percent of girls had been bullied.
It also found 9.7 percent of boys and 13.5 percent of girls had been sexually abused, and 1.7 percent of boys and 2.1 percent of girls had been raped.
"There is an urgent need to promote research and programs to raise community awareness and to prevent child violence," Anupama Singh, East Asia-Pacific regional director of UNICEF told delegates. "Violence is one of the most serious problems affecting children."
Several recent cases have highlighted the problem of bullying. Early last month, a student filmed a pupil being beaten by her peers in Shenzhen, Guangdong and the harrowing scenes were released online by a news website.
"This incident triggered a hot online discussion about school violence, which is on the rise," said Chen.
(China Daily May 17, 2005)