A cross-national exploration of societal-level factors associated with child physical abuse and neglect

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Global Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2017.1404622

Children around the world experience violence at the hands of their caregivers at alarming rates. A recent review estimates that a minimum of 50% of children in Asia, Africa, and North America experienced severe physical violence by caregivers in the past year, with large variations between countries. Identifying modifiable country-level factors driving these geographic variations has great potential for achieving population-level reductions in rates of child maltreatment. This study builds on previous research by focusing on caregiver-reported physical abuse and neglect victimisation, examining 22 societal factors representing 11 different constructs among 42 countries from 5 continents at different stages of development. Our findings suggest that gender inequity may be important for both child physical abuse and neglect. Indicators of literacy and development may also be important for child neglect. Given the limitations of the correlational findings and measurement issues, it is critical to continue to investigate societal-level factors of child maltreatment so that interventions and prevention efforts can incorporate strategies that have the greatest potential for population-level impact.

Journal article