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Modelling the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Discipline Against Children

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic could increase violence against children at home. However, collecting empirical data on violence is challenging due to ethical, safety, and data quality concerns. This study estimated the anticipated effect of COVID-19 on violent discipline at home using multivariable predictive regression models.

Participants
Children aged 1–14 years and household members from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) conducted in Nigeria, Mongolia, and Suriname before the COVID-19 pandemic were included.

Methods
A conceptual model of how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect risk factors for violent discipline was developed. Country specific multivariable linear models were used to estimate the association between selected variables from MICS and a violent discipline score which captured the average combination of violent disciplinary methods used in the home. A review of the literature informed the development of quantitative assumptions about how COVID-19 would impact the selected variables under a “high restrictions” pandemic scenario, approximating conditions expected during a period of intense response measures, and a “lower restrictions” scenario with easing of COVID-19 restrictions but with sustained economic impacts. These assumptions were used to estimate changes in violent discipline scores.

Results
Under a “high restrictions” scenario there would be a 35%–46% increase in violent discipline scores in Nigeria, Mongolia and Suriname, and under a “lower restrictions” scenario there would be between a 4%–6% increase in violent discipline scores in these countries.

Conclusion
Policy makers need to plan for increases in violent discipline during successive waves of lockdowns.

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Publication date: 2021

Author(s): Camilla Fabbri, Dr Amiya Bhatia, Alessandra Guedes, Max Petzold, Claudia Cappa, Munkhbadar Jugder, Karen Devries

Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect

Volume: 2

Language: English

Peer reviewed: YES

Related Innocenti Project(s):

Violence against children