Table of Contents

HK J Paediatr (New Series)
Vol 16. No. 2, 2011

HK J Paediatr (New Series) 2011;16:139-141

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

SP Lau, KP Fung

Dear Editor,

Re: Validation of the Chinese Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire by Chan KL, Fong DYT, Yan E, Chow CB,
Ip P. HK J Paediatr (new series) 2011;16:17-27

We commend the spirit of these authors for their gallant effort to dig into a complex and yet pressing problem - Juvenile victimization in Hong Kong. As the chief editor comments aptly in the current Editorial: pinpointing the actual health needs of local population can go a long way to improve health-professional education and training. This paper has the potential of fulfilling such grand objective.

However, we are immediately dumbfound by these questions: W8 "Exposure to Random Shootings, Terrorism, or Riots" and W9 "Exposure to War or Ethnic Conflict." In the eagerness to seek complete fidelity, which our authors pride themselves of; the original US format is transplanted in unedited form to the present-day Hong Kong. I beg none of our authors had ever experienced random shooting, war of riots in their lifetimes, let alone our much younger post-90 teenagers. The last time we were at war was the Japanese invasion of 1942, and riots were seen in 1967. If the questions are odd balls, then it is even odder to find that 13.1% (Riots & Shooting) and 7.5 % (War & Ethnic Conflict) of the respondents have had such lifetime personal experience respectively!!! A reader from Mars may be excused in believing Hong Kong as a chaotic war zone in the likes of Baghdad, Afghanistan or even New York Harlem. Also fantastically high incidence is reported in these areas: 4.9% had personally witnessed murder (W7), kidnapping (C7) and 2.7% of their family members or friends had been murdered (W6). Any Hong Kong resident would laugh off these data as unreal and fabrication. It seems phantasy-question evokes phantasy-answer. Surely there is something seriously wrong with the data validation process and questionnaire design.

When the US original papers1,2 are scrutinized, we are impressed by the thoroughness the designers had gone about to define the questions; a number of research institutions were engaged, Department of Justice's crime and victimization statistics were analysed and the final design was based on a preliminary DVS victimization survey that had gone through countless peer reviewing process. In short, it has a reality basis. Nothing of that sort is prepared in this paper; and a high fidelity and whole-sale transplant inevitably produced such hilarious results that, no matter how sophisticated the statistics and how eloquent the presentation is, a fundamental conceptual fault cannot be argued away; such poor quality data inevitably invalidate the result. Sadly this fact escapes the attention of two most senior community paediatricians among the authors and even our learned reviewers of the Journal.

橘越淮而枳. It is futile to sacrifice reality for the sake of international compatibility, which our authors seem to be so much obsessed with. Once more, we concur with the tenor of the current issue's Editorial: to improve local standard, one has to study local situation with real and reliable local data; mere transplant won't do.


1. Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA, Hamby SL. Measuring poly-victimization using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Child Abuse Negl 2005;29:1297-312.

2. Hamby SL, Finkelhor D, Ormrod R, Turner H. The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ): Administration and Scoring Manual. Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center. March 2004.

SP Lau
KP Fung
Paediatrician in Private Practice Hong Kong


Dear Editor,

Thank you for the opportunity to reply to the letter from Lau and Fung. In their letter, Lau and Fung speculated the usefulness and reliability of several items of the Chinese Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ) when applying on the Hong Kong Chinese population. However, we do not agree to their points that our study was "phantasy- (fantasy-) question evokes phantasy- (fantasy-) answer" and that our data are "unreal" and with "poor quality."

To research is to find out new knowledge rather than confirming our limited understanding of the world. Using an instrument, e.g. the JVQ as well as other measures or scales, for research should include as many possible experiences as the targets might have so as to capture a complete profile of the respondents. Lau and Fung have made an assumption that "none of our authors had ever experienced random shooting, war of riots in their lifetimes, let alone our much younger post-90s teenagers." Yet, reliance of their life experiences and expectations to construct an instrument can be dangerous. Teenagers, especially the post-90s, generally have much exposure, e.g. to a variety of countries and experiences, than the older generations during childhood. As researchers, we should never underestimate or ignore the possible experiences they might have. If we remove the items exploring the "Exposure to Random Shootings, Terrorism, or Riots" (W8) from the Chinese JVQ, the prevalence rates of the corresponding type of juvenile victimization may be underreported because individuals such as Jason Leung (梁頌學), a victim of Manila shooting, and those who had experienced riots in Thailand or recent conflicts in Northern Africa can find no items to report their experiences. Even the respondents have never experienced those kinds of trauma, they can report null to the items and the validity of the Chinese JVQ should not be affected.

Removing the items concerning shootings, terrorism, riots, wars and conflicts exposure can also undermine its usefulness when applying to other Chinese populations living outside Hong Kong. The Chinese JVQ was developed with the aim to assess juvenile victimization in Chinese societies. If some items are deleted based on the assumed situations in Hong Kong, the validity and the applicability of the Chinese JVQ may be challenged.

We acknowledge Lau and Fung for their comments and opinions on our study. However, our data are of good quality and there is definitely no data error or fabrication. Given the potential usefulness of the Chinese JVQ, we would not have them removed but continue to validate it in other Chinese societies.

KL Chan
E Yan
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

DYT Fong
Department of Nursing Studies,
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine,
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

CB Chow
P Ip
Department of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine,
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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