The roles of emotional competence and social problem-solving in the relationship between physical abuse and adolescent suicidal ideation in China

Sylvia Y.C.L. Kwok, Jerf W.K. Yeung, Andrew Y.T. Low, Hay Ming Lo, Cherry H.L. Tam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigated the relationship among physical abuse, positive psychological factors including emotional competence and social problem-solving, and suicidal ideation among adolescents in China. The possible moderating effects of emotional competence and social problem-solving in the association between physical abuse and adolescent suicidal ideation were also studied. A cross-sectional survey employing convenience sampling was conducted and self-administered questionnaires were collected from 527 adolescents with mean age of 14 years from the schools in Shanghai. Results showed that physical abuse was significantly and positively related to suicidal ideation in both male and female adolescents. Emotional competence was not found to be significantly associated with adolescent suicidal ideation, but rational problem-solving, a sub-scale of social problem-solving, was shown to be significantly and negatively associated with suicidal ideation for males, but not for females. However, emotional competence and rational problem-solving were shown to be a significant and a marginally significant moderator in the relationship between physical abuse and suicidal ideation in females respectively, but not in males. High rational problem-solving buffered the negative impact of physical abuse on suicidal ideation for females. Interestingly, females with higher empathy and who reported being physically abused by their parents have higher suicidal ideation. Findings are discussed and implications are stated. It is suggested to change the attitudes of parents on the concept of physical abuse, guide them on appropriate attitudes, knowledge and skills in parenting, and enhance adolescents' skills in rational problem-solving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Child abuse
  • Chinese
  • Emotional competence
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Moderating effect
  • Physical abuse
  • Problem-solving
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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