Child maltreatment in China: An ecological review of the literature

Minli Liao, Alvin Shiulain Lee, Amelia C. Roberts-Lewis, Jun Sung Hong, Kaishan Jiao

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81 Scopus citations


This article presents findings of a systematic review of empirical studies on child maltreatment in China that were published in either English or Chinese. The review uses Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory as a lens to examine risk and protective factors of child maltreatment within micro-, meso-, exo-, macro-, and chrono- system levels. A search of 5 electronic bibliographic databases and websites identified 24 outcome studies on child maltreatment in China, which included studies that examined physical/emotional/sexual abuse, and neglect. The most direct influences of child maltreatment in the micro-level system include the parent-child relationship and intergenerational transmission of abuse. At the macro-system level, maltreatment is explained by cultural values such as filial piety and familism. In essence, different factors are found within the various system levels that indicate the complexities of the factors that influence child maltreatment. Throughout the article, we highlight the need to understand the cultural dynamics, values, and mores of Chinese families. The discussion includes practical suggestions and implications for intervention with children, parents, and grandparents that school teachers, social workers, policy makers, and researchers can utilize.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1719
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Child abuse
  • China
  • Ecological systems theory
  • Emotional abuse
  • Maltreatment
  • Sexual abuse


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