Is teacher violence a form of betrayal trauma? Relationship with mental health problems among young adults

Hong Wang Fung*, Chin Wen Cong, Chee Seng Tan, Guangzhe Frank Yuan, Caimeng Liu, Kyle Langjie He, Suet Lin Hung, Vincent Wan Ping Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Childhood trauma is one of the most preventable risk factors for mental health problems. Considering the substantial amount of time that young people spend in school during their early years, it is important to understand the potential impacts of teachers' behaviors on students' mental health. Objectives: This study examined the relationship between exposure to teacher violence and mental health problems. Participants and setting: An international sample of young adults aged 18 to 24 (N = 283). Methods: Participants completed self-report measures of childhood trauma, exposure to teacher violence, depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol misuse. Results: Exposure to teacher violence could be reliably and validly measured using the Teacher Violence Scale (TVS). Current mental health problems – including depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol misuse – were associated with exposure to teacher violence during high school years, but not with childhood non-betrayal trauma. Conclusions: Our findings expand the application of the betrayal trauma theory to school settings and point to the importance of preventing and managing teacher violence. It is important to provide more support and training to teachers and enhance monitoring measures in schools. More research on the prevalence and correlates of exposure to teacher violence is needed. We also provided first evidence supporting the reliability and validity of the English version of the TVS to facilitate future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106436
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Early online date8 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Betrayal trauma
  • Childhood trauma
  • Mental health
  • Teacher violence
  • The Teacher Violence Scale (TVS)


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