Peer relationships of left-behind children in China moderate their loneliness

Hui Ling1, En Fu2, Jian-ren Zhang1
1Department of Psychology, Hunan Normal University, People’s Republic of China
2Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, United States
Cite this article:  Ling, H., Fu, E., & Zhang, J.-r. (2017). Peer relationships of left-behind children in China moderate their loneliness. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 45(6), 901-914.

Volume 45 Issue 6 | e6021 | Published: July 2017 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.6021

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We examined peer relationships and loneliness of children who have experienced separation from their parent(s) and compared them with children who have never had that experience. Chinese boys and girls (N = 232) aged 10 to 14 completed the Children’s Loneliness Scale and the Friendship Quality Questionnaire, and were asked to complete a peer nomination procedure designed to measure peer acceptance status. Results showed that 127 (54.7%) of the survey participants had experienced separation from their parent(s) because of parental migration for work (left-behind children). The score for loneliness was higher in the group of left-behind children than in children without left-behind experience, but the scores of the two groups did not differ either on friendship quality or for peer acceptance status. Moreover, among the group of children who had experience of being left behind, their loneliness scores were highly correlated with their scores for both friendship quality and peer acceptance status, but among the group who had no experience of being left behind there was a high correlation of their loneliness score only with their friendship quality score.

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