Open Access Research article

Child neglect in one-child families from Suzhou City of Mainland China

Jing Hua1*, Zhe Mu23, Bright I Nwaru4, Guixiong Gu5*, Wei Meng67 and Zhuochun Wu67

Author Affiliations

1 Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine Shanghai, Shanghai, China

2 Shanghai Urban Environmental Meteorology Center, Shanghai, China

3 The Medical School of Tongji University, Shanghai, China

4 School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

5 Pediatrics Research Institution of Suzhou University, Suzhou, China

6 Department of Epidemiology, Public Health School, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

7 Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of education, Shanghai, China

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2014, 14:8  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-8

Published: 25 March 2014



The one-child policy introduced in China in 1979 has led to far-reaching changes in socio-demographic characteristics. Under this policy regime, each household has few children. This study aims to describe the prevalence of child neglect in one-child families in China and to examine the correlates of child neglect.


A cross-sectional study of 2044 children aged 6 to 9 years and recruited from four primary schools in Suzhou City, China was conducted. Neglect subtypes were determined using a validated indigenous measurement scale reported by parents. Child, parental and family characteristics were obtained by questionnaires and review of social security records. Linear regression analyses were performed to estimate the associations between these factors and the subtypes of child neglect.


The prevalence of child any neglect was 32.0% in one child families in Suzhou City, China. Supervisory (20.3%) neglect was the most prevalent type of child neglect, followed by emotional (15.2%), physical (11.1%), and educational (6.0%) neglect After simultaneous adjustment to child and family characteristics and the school factor, boys, children with physical health issues and cognitive impairment, younger and unemployed mother, were positively associated with neglect subtypes. We also found that parents with higher education and three-generation families were negatively associated with neglect.


The rates of child neglect subtypes vary across different regions in China probably due to the different policy implementation and socio-economic levels, with a lower level of physical and educational neglect and a higher level of emotional neglect in this study. The three-generation family structure was correlates of neglect which may be unique in one child families. This indicates that future intervention programs in one-child families should target these factors.

Child neglect; One-child policy; China