The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Violence Against Youth With Disabilities in Vietnam and Its Relationship to Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm Behaviors

Friday, January 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002A River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Kristin Berg, AM, Doctoral Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Cheng Shi Shiu, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Huong Nguyen, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Purpose:Between 180 and 220 million youth with disabilities exist worldwide; 80% of whom live in developing nations. These youth are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse both within the family and the community. To date, little research exists on the victimization of youth with disabilities in Asian countries or its effects upon their mental health. Yet, developing Asian countries, such as Vietnam, harbor a significant number of youth with disabilities, while social and medical services to address their needs often lag behind. Given the current gap in the literature, the objectives of this study are: 1) to identify the prevalence of reported injury due to violence among youth with disabilities in a nationally representative sample of Vietnamese youth 2) to estimate the relationship between youth disability and injuries due to violence, controlling for other socioeconomic and family variables and 3) to identify whether disability status moderates the impact of victimization upon self-harm behaviors/suicidal ideation.

Method: This study draws upon the 2003 Vietnam Survey Assessment of Vietnamese Youth (VNSAVY), which is the first nationally representative, population-based survey of 7,584 adolescents and young adults in Vietnam. Data collection included face-to-face interviews and self-administrated anonymous surveys. Weighted bivariate and multiple logistic regressions were used to investigate the relationship among disability, violence and other selected co-variates. The SVY procedures in STATA 12 were applied to take into account the complex survey design and sampling weights.

Results: Approximately fourteen percent of Vietnamese youth report having a disability. Among these youth, approximately 10% report injuries due to one victimization, in comparison to 8.7% of youth without disabilities. Likewise, almost twice as many youth with disabilities report two victimizations (1.1%), in comparison to youth without disabilities (.6%). The odds of youth with disabilities reporting injuries due to family violence remained 50% higher than those without disabilities, controlling for all other variables, including sociodemographic and family risk variables. Disability status moderated the impact of victimization upon self-harm/suicidal ideation such that the probability of engaging in self-harm behaviors or suicidal ideation was five times higher for youth with disabilities, versus youth without disabilities who reported both familial and extra- familial victimizations. Likewise, among Vietnamese youth with disabilities, the probability of reporting self-harm behaviors or suicidal ideation was approximately five times higher for those who reported both familial and extra-familial victimization versus only one victimization.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that youth with disabilities in developing Asian countries, such as Vietnam, may be vulnerable to extreme forms of physical violence, in comparison to peers without disabilities. Moreover, the experience of familial and extra-familial victimization together, appears to have a “threshold effect” upon the probability of engaging in self-harm behaviors/suicidal ideation among youth with disabilities.  Social services are needed to address the heightened vulnerabilities of youth with disabilities in developing contexts. Services should not only seek to screen and prevent family and community violence against youth with disabilities, but also, provide appropriate mental health supports to address the behavioral health sequelae of victimization observed among disabled youth.