The buffering effect of child-caregiver relationships: Social skills development of ethnic minority children with maladaptive behaviors in rural China

Hor Yan Angel Lai, Cheryl Chui, Phyllis HY Lo, Lucy P. Jordan, Cecilia LW Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In the Butuo County (Butuo) of Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture of rural China, a group of children belonging to the Yi ethnic minority group is at risk of negative outcomes because they suffer from the double jeopardy of chronic poverty and parental loss. Located in the inaccessible and arid mountainous region, Butuo is one of the poorest counties in China. With an average annual income lower than 100 USD, 20% of the inhabitants in Butuo live in extreme poverty (Jiao, 2007; Li et al., 1999; Yang, Zhang, Tsui, Ma, & Jin, 2007). An earlier prevalence study reported that 10% of Yi children lost at least 1 parent and that approximately 43% of them lost both (Yang et al., 2007). The common reasons for parental loss are sickness, drug abuse and accident (personal communication, July 2011). Cultural norms also result in incidences of abandonment. When the father of a Yi family dies, the mother is required to either leave the family or to be arranged to remarry the brother of her late husband (Harrell, 2001). Children are then separated from their mothers and very often, extended family members will adopt them (Harrell, 2001). Some unfortunate ones are stranded in the mountains to live independently (personal communication, July 2011). The cumulative disadvantages of parental loss and chronic poverty jeopardize the development of Yi children. In 2006, an international philanthropic organization (the organization), in collaboration with the local government of Butuo, initiated an education program providing orphaned Yi children to study and live at local schools in the Butuo region. Children enrolled in the program are provided with basic …
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-340
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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