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Bullying victimization and child sexual abuse among left-behind and non-left-behind children in China

Li Yan, Qianqian Zhu, Xiaowen Tu, Xiayun Zuo, Chunyan Yu, Chaohua Lou, Qiguo Lian
PeerJ 2018, 6: e4865

Background: Bullying is one of the most important factors associated with child abuse. However, robust tests supporting the assumption that being bullied can contribute to child sexual abuse (CSA) among left-behind children (LBC) remain sparse. This study aims to investigate the association of bullying victimization with CSA among LBC in China.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in six middle schools of Sichuan and Anhui province in 2015. The bullying victimization was assessed by seven items from the Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. The experience of CSA was measured by ten items CSA scale with good consistency.

Results: A total of 1,030 children met the sampling criteria, including 284 LBC and 746 non-LBC. The prevalence of CSA was 22.89% in LBC and 20.19% in non-LBC ( p  > 0.05). Bullying victimization was related to CSA among both LBC (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR] = 2.52, 95% CI [1.34-4.73]) and non-LBC (aOR = 2.35, 95% CI [1.58-3.53]). The association between bullying victimization and CSA was much higher among left-behind girls (left-behind girls: aOR = 7.36, 95% CI [2.16-24.99]; non-left-behind girls: aOR = 2.38, 95% CI [1.08-5.27]). Also, LBC of a young age (11-15), children with siblings, living in rural areas and non-traditional family structure who were bullied were more likely to suffer CSA than their non-LBC peers.

Conclusions: Bullying victimization is associated with a significant increase in CSA among both LBC and non-LBC. Anti-bullying programs should target vulnerable populations including female LBC and LBC with siblings to reduce the risk of CSA.


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