Behaviour problems in Chinese primary school children
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- Hesketh, T., Zheng, Y., Jun, Y.X. et al. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2011) 46: 733. doi:10.1007/s00127-010-0240-0
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This study aimed to determine levels of behaviour problem in primary school children, and to explore key determinants relevant to the Chinese context: being an only child, urban living, school stressors, being bullied and physical punishment.
We administered a child self-completion questionnaire to children aged 7–13 and Rutter Parent Scales to their parents in nine primary schools, in urban and rural Zhejiang Province, eastern China.
Full data were available for 2,203 child–parent pairs. Rutter Scores showed that 13.2% of the children (16.4% of boys, 9.4% of girls) had a behaviour problem. Girls manifest more emotional problems (5.3 vs. 2.3%) and boys more conduct problems. Questions about school stress showed that 78% worry “a lot” about exams, 80% felt pressure to perform at school “all the time”, and 44% were bullied at least sometimes. Seventy-one percent were sometimes or often physically punished by their parents. Conduct problems were strongly significantly associated with male gender (OR 3.8 95% CI 3.0–4.6), rural residence OR 2.3, 1.3–3.4, having been bullied (1.8, 1.5–2.2) and frequent physical punishment (4.5, 3.2–5.8). Emotional problems were most strongly associated with being bullied (OR 4.9, 2.3–7.7). Being an only child was not associated with behaviour problems.
High levels of behaviour problems in these Chinese children could relate to high expectations in a very competitive educational environment. Our results raise concerns for the future mental well-being of those children with behaviour problems.