Table of Contents

HK J Paediatr (New Series)
Vol 16. No. 1, 2011

HK J Paediatr (New Series) 2011;16:17-24

Original Article

Validation of the Chinese Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire

KL Chan, DYT Fong, E Yan, CB Chow, P Ip


Objective: The primary objective of this research was to validate the Chinese Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire (JVQ) in a Chinese population. Design: A validation study. Setting: This study is based on the pilot study of the Optimus Study on Child Sexual Abuse in China. Participants: A representative sample of students aged 15 to 17 who were in Grades 10 to 12 at schools in a district of Hong Kong was recruited for the survey (N=415). Results: The Chinese JVQ demonstrated a good internal consistency, with Cronbach's alpha exceeding 0.70 for almost all subscales and 0.89 for the total scale. Also, it correlated significantly with all the hypothesized psychosocial variables, namely depression, physical health, and mental health. Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence for the validity and reliability of the Chinese JVQ. Also, it finds that youth who suffer from victimisation are more likely to experience trauma symptoms. The authors suggest that such a scale is useful for measuring and identifying the victimisation patterns among youth within a Chinese population. Furthermore, the validation of the Chinese JVQ can lead to more multi-sites and cross-cultural studies.

Keyword : Child victimisation; Chinese Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire; Validation

Disclaimer : The Optimus Study was initiated and funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation

Abstract in Chinese


A recent worldwide concern over child victimisation has resulted from the growing recognition that children and youth suffer higher rates of exposure to violence and victimisation than do adults.1-3 Child victimisation produces pain and wounds of body, mind, and soul. Numerous studies have documented the detrimental effects of different forms of victimisation, which include depression2-4 and worsening physical5,6 and mental health.4 In order to capture the full range of child victimisation, the Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire (JVQ) was developed as an instrument that assesses conventional crime, child maltreatment, peer and sibling victimisation, sexual victimisation, and witness and indirect victimisation among children and youth.3 The JVQ has been adopted as a comprehensive assessment tool of child victimisation in the Developmental Victimisation Survey2,3 and the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence.7 Previous studies found the JVQ to be strongly correlated with trauma symptoms, such as anger, depression, and anxiety,2,3 as well as adverse physical health outcomes.5 In view of the lack of a reliable and valid instrument in the Chinese language that measures child victimisation within Chinese societies, the present study sought to translate the JVQ into Chinese and then validate this translated version.

The primary objective of this study was to validate the Chinese JVQ. There were five broad aims: (a) to translate the JVQ into Chinese for use in a Chinese population; (b) to provide the lifetime and preceding-year prevalence rates of the JVQ items; (c) to examine the psychometric properties of the Chinese JVQ, that is, the internal consistency; (d) to identify the psychosocial correlates of the Chinese JVQ; and (e) to provide the correlations among the five modules of the Chinese JVQ.


Translation of the JVQ

A bilingual psychologist first translated the original JVQ from English into Chinese. Then a Chinese teacher corrected the linguistic and grammatical errors in the Chinese version and another bilingual psychologist translated the Chinese version back into English. Having ensured its literal equivalence to the original JVQ, two psychologists reviewed the Chinese JVQ to confirm its literal equivalence to the original English version. Cognitive debriefing interviews were also conducted to test the acceptability, comprehensibility, relevance, and completeness of the new translation.

Field Testing of the Chinese JVQ

This study is based on the pilot study of the Optimus Study on Child Sexual Abuse in China. A representative sample of students aged 15 to 17 who were in Grades 10 to 12 at schools in a district of Hong Kong was recruited for the survey. The sample was selected using a two-stage stratified random sampling design for the survey. For the first stage, a random sample of eight schools was selected. For the second stage, a random sample of students aged 15 to 16 studying in Grades 10 to 12 in the sampled schools was recruited. The method of selecting students involved randomly assigning a calendar month to a school and then selecting all the students who were born during that month. In the survey, a total of eight secondary schools were sampled, five of which agreed to participate in the survey, giving a response rate of 63% at the school level. At the individual level, the participation rate was very high: about 99%. Once the purpose of the study and confidentiality issues had been outlined to the participants, their written consent to participate was obtained. A group-administered interview was adopted, which lasted about 30 minutes. Ethics approval was obtained from the institutional review board of The University of Hong Kong and the Hospital Authority Hong Kong West Cluster.


A total of 415 Chinese students aged 15 to 17 were successfully recruited for the purpose of the study. The mean age was 16.4 (SD = 1.1). About 70% of the sample were male, 28.9% identified Hong Kong as their place of origin, and 6.5% came from a family partaking in the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme. A majority (77.6%) reported having siblings, 18.8% reported being the only child, and 3.6% did not specify. With regard to the marital status of the participants' parents, 77.6% reported that their parents were married, 8.4% that their parents were divorced, 1.7% that their parents were separated, 3.9% that their parent was widowed, 6.7% that their parents were unmarried but cohabiting, and 1.7% did not specify.


Child Victimisation. The Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire (JVQ) employs 34 screening questions to determine the number and types of previous-year victimisations experienced by sampled children. The JVQ serves as an inventory of all the major forms of offense against youth, covering a wide range of events including non-violent victimisation and events that children and youth do not typically conceptualise as crimes. Specifically, the JVQ covers five general areas of concern: Module A - Conventional crime (C1-C8, 8 items); Module B - Child maltreatment (M1-M4, 4 items); Module C - Peer and sibling victimisation (P1-P6, 6 items), Module D - Sexual victimisation (S1-S7, 7 items), and Module E - Witness and indirect victimisation (W1-W9, 9 items). The JVQ has shown evidence of good test-retest reliability and construct validity across a wide spectrum of developmental stages. Also, the JVQ has demonstrated satisfactory reliability, with a Cronbach's alpha value of 0.80.2

Health Status. The Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) is used to assess health-related quality of life.8 It consists of 12 items measuring physical health and mental health. These items can be aggregated into two scales: the Physical Component Score (PCS) and the Mental Component Score (MCS). Higher scores indicate better functioning. A Chinese version of the SF-12 Health Survey, which has been shown to have satisfactory validity and reliability (C-SF-12),9 was employed in this study to assess health-related quality of life, The SF-12 includes the mental component summary and physical component summary measures.

Depression. The Beck Depression Inventory version II (BDI-II) is a self-report instrument for the assessment of symptoms corresponding to criteria for diagnosing depressive disorders.10 It consists of 21 groups of statements and requires the participant to choose one statement in each group that best describes how she felt during the previous two weeks. The BDI-II has been translated into Chinese under the supervision of one of the Co-Is (Fong) and has been shown to have satisfactory validity and reliability (α ranged from 0.86 to 0.87).11

The student participants were asked to provide information about their demographics as well as the scales including JVQ, SF-12 and BDI-II. Informed consent was obtained from the participants prior to the interviews and they were told that they could omit answering any question they wished. The confidentiality of the data was guaranteed. The interviewers also gave the participants an information card containing details of social services related to violence prevention.

Statistical Analysis

The demographic characteristics of the participants and the prevalence rates of the JVQ were summarised. Correlations were performed to test the associations among the subscales of the JVQ, the SF-12, and the BDI self-esteem. Pearson's r indicates the degree of linear dependence between two variables; the stronger the correlation, the closer is the r value to either -1 (a negative correlation) or 1 (a positive correlation). The nominal level of significance was set at 5%, and SPSS version 17 was used for the statistical analysis.


Pattern of Endorsement

Although all participants were informed that they could refuse to answer any of the questions, majority of the student participants had responded to the Chinese-JVQ items. There were very few non-responses for the items, ranged from 0.7% to 1.7%. In general, no one item elicited refusals or missing responses more than others. Hence, all items appeared to be acceptable to most participants in this study.

Internal Consistency Reliability

The internal consistency reliability of the Chinese JVQ was calculated with Cronbach's coefficient alpha, which is a measure of the coherence of a scale in assessing an underlying construct. The Cronbach's alpha coefficients for the Chinese JVQ and Modules A to E were 0.89, 0.83, 0.64, 0.73, 0.71, and 0.76 respectively. No gender difference in the report of the Cronbach alpha values was found. This was comparable to, and to a certain extent better than, the corresponding values for the original JVQ, which were respectively 0.80, 0.61, 0.39, 0.55, and 0.51.

Lifetime and Preceding-year Prevalence Rates

Table 1 presents the lifetime and preceding-year prevalence rates of each JVQ item. Among the five modules, conventional crime was the most prevalent form of child victimisation, being reported to have a lifetime prevalence rate of 50.4% and a preceding-year prevalence rate of 35.8%. The next most prevalent form was witnessing and indirect victimisation, which was reported to have a lifetime prevalence rate of 35.7% and a preceding-year prevalence rate of 24%. Child maltreatment was reported to have a lifetime prevalence rate of 31% and a preceding-year prevalence rate of 21.1%, while peer and sibling victimisation was reported to have a lifetime prevalence rate of 26.7% and a preceding-year prevalence rate of 17.2%. Sexual victimisation was the least prevalent form of child victimisation, with lifetime and preceding-year prevalence rates reported as 8.5% and 5.8% respectively.

Psychosocial Correlates of the JVQ

Table 2 presents the correlations among the Chinese JVQ, the SF-12, and the BDI. On the basis of previous research, we hypothesized that children who experienced victimisation would experience more trauma symptoms, such as deterioration in physical and mental health, and would be more likely to suffer from depression. Consistent with this hypothesis, the participants' overall JVQ score was negatively and significantly related to the Physical Component Score (r=-0.17, p<0.01) and Mental Component Score measured by the SF-12. Among the five modules, both peer and sibling victimisation and witnessing and indirect victimisation were correlated with the SF-12 PCS. Child maltreatment was correlated with the SF-12 MCS score (r=-0.23, p<0.01). Depression was also found to be positively and significantly related to all of the five modules and the overall Chinese JVQ (r=0.312, p<0.01).

Table 1 Lifetime and preceding-year prevalence rates of the JVQ
JVQ Lifetime prevalence % Preceding-year prevalence %
C1 Robbery 24.6 16.8
C2 Personal Theft 35.3 22.1
C3 Peer or Sibling Assault 26.0 14.0
C4 Assault with Weapon 15.8 7.8
C5 Assault without Weapon 23.4 14.4
C6 Attempted Assault 18.0 11.0
C7 Kidnapping 4.9 2.7
C8 Bias Attack 7.8 5.4
M1 Physical Abuse by Caregiver 14.3 7.3
M2 Psychological/Emotional Abuse 25.5 18.2
M3 Neglect 8.0 3.9
M4 Custodial Interference/Family Abduction 4.6 3.2
P1 Gang or Group Assault 8.7 4.6
P2 Peer or Sibling Assault 18.0 11.2
P3 Non-sexual Genital Assault 5.3 4.4
P4 Bullying 10.2 7.0
P5 Emotional Bullying 11.9 8.0
P6 Dating Violence 4.9 2.9
S1 Sexual Assault by Known Adult 2.4 1.9
S2 Non-specific Sexual Assault 1.9 1.7
S3 Sexual Assault by Peer 2.9 1.9
S4 Rape: Attempted or Completed 1.5 1.2
S5 Flashing/Sexual Exposure 2.2 1.2
S6 Verbal Sexual Harassment 1.9 1.5
S7 Statutory Rape and Sexual Misconduct 4.9 3.6
W1 Witness to Domestic Violence 7.5 3.6
W2 Witness to Parent Assault of Sibling 9.2 4.9
W3 Witness to Assault with Weapon 11.7 7.3
W4 Witness to Assault without Weapon 18.4 10.7
W5 Burglary of Family Household 8.0 4.1
W6 Murder of Family Member or Friend 2.7 1.7
W7 Witness to Murder 4.9 2.9
W8 Exposure to Random Shootings, Terrorism, or Riots 13.1 10.7
W9 Exposure to War or Ethnic Conflict 7.5 4.6
Module A: Conventional Crime 50.4 35.8
Module B: Child Maltreatment 31.0 21.1
Module C: Peer and Sibling Victimisation 26.7 17.2
Module D: Sexual Victimisation 8.5 5.8
Module E: Witnessing and Indirect Victimisation 35.7 24.0

Correlations between Subscales

Table 3 summarises the results of a Pearson correlation analysis between the subscales of the Chinese JVQ. The correlations between the subscales indicated that all of them were positively inter-correlated. Specifically, the correlation between conventional crime and peer and sibling victimisation was found to have a large effect size.


The aim of this study was to validate the Chinese JVQ for use within Chinese societies. The preliminary results show that the Chinese JVQ is a reliable and valid instrument. It demonstrates an even better internal consistency then the original JVQ,2 with Cronbach's alpha exceeding 0.70 for almost all subscales and 0.89 for the total scale. Also, this Chinese JVQ correlates significantly with the three hypothesized psychosocial variables, namely depression, physical health, and mental health. In other words, the correlation results indicate that children and youth who suffer from victimisation have a high chance of also suffering from depression, deteriorating physical health, and deteriorating mental health. In addition, the present study also provides preliminary estimates on the frequency of types of victimisation. The study reveals that conventional crime is the most common form of child victimisation, followed by witness and indirect victimisation, child maltreatment, and peer and siblings victimisation. Sexual victimisation is the least prominent form of child victimisation. In general, this victimisation pattern is similar to that observed in the West.1

The performance of the Chinese JVQ in the present study suggests its potential utility as an instrument for measuring victimisation in epidemiological and research studies. The validation of such a scale provides researchers with an extremely important tool for understanding child victimisation and poly-victimisation within Chinese communities. Moreover, with the Chinese translated version, researchers can further investigate child victimisation in Chinese societies by comparing it to child victimisation in other societies, such as in the West. Hence, more cross-cultural and multi-site studies can be conducted in the future.

Professionals who work with victimised children are increasingly expected not only to design effective intervention and prevention programs, but also to monitor victimisation patterns. The present study has validated a scale that can help professionals to meet these expectations. Furthermore, the Chinese JVQ can help professionals to identify at-risk youth and children more accurately and efficiently due to its comprehensiveness and the ease with which it can be administered. This can then further increase the likelihood of providing appropriate service, care, and even referrals, which are much needed to heal the wounds of victimised children.

Table 2 Correlations among the Chinese JVQ, the SF-12, and the BDI
Conventional Crime -0.100* -0.162** 0.248**
Child Maltreatment -0.145** -0.230** 0.293**
Peer and Sibling Victimisation -0.173** -0.167** 0.244**
Sexual Victimisation -0.056 -0.108* 0.220**
Witness and Indirect Victimisation -0.173** -0.060 0.226**
Total JVQ -0.170** -0.183** 0.312**
#A higher item response value indicates better health for all SF-12 items and summary measures.
*p<0.05; **p<0.01


Table 3 Pearson correlation analysis of the subscales of the Chinese JVQ
JVQ 1 2 3 4 5
Conventional Crime 1.00        
Child Maltreatment 0.480** 1.00      
Peer and Sibling Victimisation 0.667** 0.575** 1.00    
Sexual Victimisation 0.389** 0.300** 0.394** 1.00  
Witness and Indirect Victimisation 0.435** 0.479** 0.548** 0.420** 1.00
*p<0.5; **p<0.01

The present study, however, has several limitations. First, the results may be subject to social desirability or recall bias as the data came solely from the participants' self-reports. Moreover, the present study utilised a relatively small and non-representative sample. The prevalence rates of each item may not be representative. Interpretation of findings in this study should be careful. Furthermore, the temporal nature of the present study limits the drawing of inferences about the casual relationships between factors. Further studies that adopt a longitudinal approach and use a larger sample size are needed to address the above limitations.

In conclusion, the present study is the first to provide preliminary evidence for the validity and reliability of the Chinese JVQ. The Chinese JVQ offers a comprehensive measure of youth victimisation that allows researchers to obtain frequency of incidences estimates with a breadth and detail that have not been previously obtained for Chinese communities. This can ultimately improve the understanding of and response to the victimisation of youth.

Appendix 1 Chinese version of Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire

Appendix 1 Chinese version of Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire (cont'd)


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