Child sexual abuse in China: A meta-analysis of 27 studies.



Objective: To examine whether Chinese studies of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the general population show lower prevalence rates than other international studies, and whether certain features of these studies may help to account for variation in estimates. Methods: A meta-analysis and meta-regression were conducted on 27 studies found in the English and Chinese language peer reviewed journals that involved general populations of students or residents, estimated CSA prior to age 18, and specified rates for males or females individually. Results: Estimates for Chinese females were lower than the international composites. For total CSA for females, the Chinese pooled estimate was 15.3% (95% CI = 12.6-18.0) based on the meta-analysis of 24 studies, lower than the international estimate (Stoltenborgh, van IJzendoorn, Euser, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2011) but not significantly. For contact CSA for females, the pooled estimate was 9.5% (95% CI = 7.5-11.5), based on 16 studies, significantly lower than the international prevalence. For penetrative CSA for females, the pooled estimate was 1% (95% CI = 0.7-1.3), based on 15 studies, significantly lower than the international estimate of 15.1%. Chinese men reported significantly less penetrative CSA but significantly more total CSA than international estimates; while contact CSA reported by Chinese and international males appeared to be roughly equivalent. Chinese CSA prevalence estimates were lower in studies from urban areas and non-mainland areas (Hong Kong and Taiwan), and in surveys with larger and probability samples, multiple sites, face-to-face interview method and when using less widely used instruments. Conclusions: The findings to date justify further research into possible cultural and sociological reasons for lower risk of contact and penetrative sexual abuse of girls and less penetrative abuse of boys in China. Future research should examine sociological explanations, including patterns of supervision, sexual socialization and attitudes related to male sexual prowess. Practice implications: The findings suggest that future general population studies in China should use well validated instruments, avoid face-to-face interview formats and be careful to maintain methodological standards when sampling large populations over multiple sites.



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Child Abuse and Neglect



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© 2013 Elsevier Ltd.