Rebecca Macy, Ph.D., the Preyer Distinguished Professor for Strengthening Families, has been appointed a guest professor of Jinan University (JNU) in China.
Known internationally for her expertise on interpersonal and relationship violence, Macy was invited to collaborate with scholars at JNU’s College of Humanities’ Juvenile and Family Law Research Center. Macy will be working with their faculty to help expand China’s research on family and intimate partner violence, a topic that until a few years ago was not viewed as a problem in the country. Interest in growing this evidence base has increased since China’s landmark domestic violence law went into effect in 2015, Macy said.
“Chinese scholars who study family violence are very interested in learning from the United States, particularly our methods for studying this topic,” Macy said. “For us, if we can, in a small way, help to inform research, as well as policy and practice, as it’s developing in China and be a part of that – that’s really exciting. Likewise, by learning from our Chinese colleagues, we can help promote more meaningful global research on family violence.”
Part of her initial work with JNU faculty has included co-authoring a paper that examined the research that has been published on intimate partner violence in China over the past 37 years. Macy and her co-authors specifically focused on research published in Chinese. UNC School of Social Work faculty associate Christopher Wretman co-authored the paper, while Dean Hongwei Zhang at Jinan University and professor Rhohui Zhao with the University of Macau led the research and publication. The paper will appear in the forthcoming issue of, Trauma, Violence, and Abuse.
“What we wanted to know is, ‘What is the overall state of domestic violence research in China? How many people are involved conducting research, is it funded, and how are scholars publishing?’” she explained. “What we found was this growing body of scholars who are studying the issue of domestic violence, and there is funding for it, and it’s being published and cited, and that’s all very promising. But we also found that we can’t really say how prevalent the problem is or who in China is most impacted by domestic violence with certainty.”
Researchers did find that risk factors for domestic violence in China are similar to those in other parts of the world, Macy said. At the same time, there are many other important topics that have not been researched, she said.
“For example, a national prevalence study of domestic violence in China would really help move their practice and policy development forward,” Macy added. “Likewise, our study showed that more attention should be given to the rural parts of China when it comes to domestic violence research.”
Macy hopes the paper is the start of many other collaborative projects down the road. Given the number of Chinese Americans in the United States, the partnership with JNU is also an opportunity for U.S. researchers to think more globally, she added.
“We’re such a global world these days,” she said. “Obviously, what happens in China affects us all, so having these research connections with Chinese scholars is really important for our own research here in the United States and in North Carolina.”