Gansu Survey of Children and Families Papers

School violence in China: A multi-level analysis of student victimization in rural middle schools

Jennifer Adams, Drexel University
Emily C. Hannum, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Working Paper

Adams, J. & Hannum, E. (2012). School violence in China: A multi-level analysis of student victimization in rural middle schools (Working Paper). Gansu Survey of Children and Families.

Revision forthcoming, 2017, in Research in Sociology of Education.


Motivation: Physical victimization at school is little studied in impoverished developing country contexts. Moreover, the role of school and classroom contexts as risk factors remains poorly understood.

Purpose: The aim of the study is to investigate the prevalence of physical victimization in rural Chinese middle schools as well as the individual, teacher/classroom, and school level risk factors associated with experiencing physical victimization.

Design: We use two waves of longitudinal, representative survey data to perform a multi-level logistic regression analysis of physical victimization among middle school students from 100 villages in one of China’s poorest provinces. We focus on a subset of questionnaire items that were gathered from students when the sampled children were 13-16 years old. We also utilize student data from the first wave of the survey to control for prior internalizing problems and academic achievement. Finally, we link matched data collected from principal and teacher questionnaires to examine the risk factors for physical victimization associated with students’ microclimates and the wider school environment.

Findings: A substantial proportion of middle school students (40%) reported having been beaten by classmates. Elevated risk was found among males; students with prior poor performance in language; students with past internalizing problems; students of female teachers and teachers evaluated as low performing; students in disruptive classrooms; and students in classrooms undergoing mandated reforms.

Implications: These findings suggest that efforts to reduce school violence should not focus on the deficits of individual students, but rather should target practices to alter the within school risk factors associated with micro-climates.


Date Posted: 13 November 2012

This document has been peer reviewed.