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Disclosure, reporting and help seeking among child survivors of violence: a cross-country analysis

AUTHOR(S)
Audrey Pereira, Amber Peterman, Anastasia Naomi Neijhoft, Alina Potts, Mary Catherine Maternowska

Published: 2020

Violence against children is a pervasive public health issue, with limited data available across multiple contexts. This study explores the rarely studied prevalence and dynamics around disclosure, reporting and help-seeking behaviours of children who ever experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

Using nationally-representative Violence Against Children Surveys in six countries: Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania, we present descriptive statistics for prevalence of four outcomes among children aged 13–17 years: informal disclosure, knowledge of where to seek formal help, formal disclosure/help seeking and receipt of formal help. We ran country-specific multivariate logistic regressions predicting outcomes on factors at the individual, household and community levels.

The prevalence of help-seeking behaviours ranged from 23 to 54% for informal disclosure, 16 to 28% for knowledge of where to seek formal help, under 1 to 25% for formal disclosure or help seeking, and 1 to 11% for receipt of formal help. Factors consistently correlated with promoting help-seeking behaviours included household number of adult females and absence of biological father, while those correlated with reduced help-seeking behaviours included being male and living in a female-headed household. Primary reasons for not seeking help varied by country, including self-blame, apathy and not needing or wanting services.

Across countries examined, help-seeking and receipt of formal services is low for children experiencing physical and/or sexual violence, with few consistent factors identified which facilitated help-seeking. Further understanding of help seeking, alongside improved data quality and availability will aid prevention responses, including the ability to assist child survivors in a timely manner.

COVID-19: Reducing the risk of infection might increase the risk of intimate partner violence

AUTHOR(S)
N. van Gelder, Amber Peterman, Alina Potts

Published: 2020
The ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of the acute respiratory distress syndrome COVID-19, is placing unprecedented stress on healthcare systems and societies as a whole. The rapid spread of the virus in the absence of targeted therapies or a vaccine, is forcing countries to respond with strong preventative measures ranging from mitigation to containment. In extreme cases, quarantines are being imposed, limiting mobility to varying degrees.
While quarantines are an effective measure of infection control, they can lead to significant social, economic and psychological consequences. Social distancing fosters isolation; exposes personal and collective vulnerabilities while limiting accessible and familiar support options. The inability to work has immediate economic repercussions and deprives many individuals of essential livelihoods and health care benefits. Psychological consequences may range from stress, frustration and anger to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent review drawing on lessons from past pandemics shows the length of quarantine increases the risk for serious psychological consequences.

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

AUTHOR(S)
Alessandra Guedes

Published: 2020
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. Under a “high restrictions” scenario there would be a 35% to 46% increase in violent discipline scores in Nigeria, Mongolia and Suriname, and under a “lower restrictions” scenario there would be between a 4% to 6% increase in violent discipline scores in these countries. Policy makers need to plan for increases in violent discipline during successive waves of lockdowns.
COVID-19 response measures and violence against children
Published: 2020
In the early stages of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, children were described as invisible carriers who posed a risk of infection to others. Here we outline how responses to COVID-19 may increase children’s exposure to violence and neglect. We also highlight ongoing efforts to address violence against children and argue for continued action and research on violence prevention within the COVID-19 response.
Violence against children in Latin America and the Caribbean: What do available data reveal about prevalence and perpetrators?

AUTHOR(S)
Karen Devries, Katherine G. Merrill, Louise Knight, Sarah Bott, Alessandra Guedes, Betzabe Butron-Riveros

Published: 2019
Past-year physical and emotional violence by caregivers and students is widespread in LAC across all ages in childhood, as is IPV against girls aged 15 – 19 years. Data collection must be expanded in LAC to monitor progress towards the sustainable development goals, develop effective prevention and response strategies, and shed light on violence relating to organized crime/gangs.
Addressing violence against children online and offline

AUTHOR(S)
Daniel Kardefelt Winther, Mary Catherine Maternowska

Published: 2019
This paper calls for actors working to end violence against children to situate online violence within the broader violence against children agenda. This requires a common conceptual framework that addresses violence in all areas of children’s lives, improved data collection efforts and integrated implementation guidance for prevention.
Who perpetrates violence against children? A systematic analysis of age- and sex-specific data

AUTHOR(S)
K. Devries, L. Knight, M Petzold, L. Maxwell, A. Williams, Claudia Cappa, E. Chan, C. Garcia-Moreno, H. Hollis, H. Kress, Amber Peterman, S.D. Walsh, A. Guedes, S. Kishor, S. Bott, B. Butron, C. Watts, N. Abrahams

Published: 2018
The epidemiology of violence against children is likely to differ substantially by sex and age of the victim and the perpetrator. Thus far, investment in effective prevention strategies has been hindered by lack of clarity in the burden of childhood violence across these dimensions. We produced the first age-specific and sex-specific prevalence estimates by perpetrator type for physical, sexual and emotional violence against children globally.

Design We used random effects meta-regression to estimate prevalence. Estimates were adjusted for relevant quality covariates, variation in definitions of violence and weighted by region-specific, age-specific and sex-specific population data to ensure estimates reflect country population structures.

Data sources Secondary data from 600 population or school-based representative datasets and 43 publications obtained via systematic literature review, representing 13 830 estimates from 171 countries.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Estimates for recent violence against children aged 0–19 were included.

Results The most common perpetrators of physical and emotional violence for both boys and girls across a range of ages are household members, with prevalence often surpassing 50%, followed by student peers. Children reported experiencing more emotional than physical violence from both household members and students. The most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls aged 15–19 years are intimate partners; however, few data on other perpetrators of sexual violence against children are systematically collected internationally. Few age-specific and sex-specific data are available on violence perpetration by schoolteachers; however, existing data indicate high prevalence of physical violence from teachers towards students. Data from other authority figures, strangers, siblings and other adults are limited, as are data on neglect of children.

Conclusions Without further investment in data generation on violence exposure from multiple perpetrators for boys and girls of all ages, progress towards Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5 and 16 may be slow. Despite data gaps, evidence shows violence from household members, peers in school and for girls, from intimate partners, should be prioritised for prevention.

Understanding the linkages between social safety nets and childhood violence: a review of the evidence from low- and middle-income countries

AUTHOR(S)
Amber Peterman, Naomi Neijhoft, Sarah Cook, Tia Palermo

Published: 2017
As many as one billion children experience violence every year, and household- and community-level poverty are among the risk factors for child protection violations. Social safety nets (SSNs) are a main policy tool to address poverty and vulnerability, and there is substantial evidence demonstrating positive effects on children’s health and human capital. This paper reviews evidence and develops a framework to understand linkages between non-contributory SSNs and the experience of childhood emotional, physical and sexual violence in low- and middle-income countries. We catalogue 14 rigorous impact evaluations, 11 of which are completed, analysing 57 unique impacts on diverse violence indicators. Among these impacts, approximately one in five represent statistically significant protective effects on childhood violence. Promising evidence relates to sexual violence among female adolescents in Africa, while there is less clear evidence of significant impacts in other parts of the developing world, and on young child measures, including violent discipline. Further, few studies are set up to meaningfully unpack mechanisms between SSNs and childhood violence; however, those most commonly hypothesized operate at the household level (through increases in economic security and reductions in poverty-related stress), the interpersonal level (improved parental behaviours, caregiving practices, improved psychosocial well-being) and at the child-level (protective education and decreases in problem or risky behaviours). It is important to emphasize that traditional SSNs are never designed with violence prevention as primary objectives, and thus should not be considered as standalone interventions to reduce risks for childhood violence. However, SSNs, particularly within integrated protection systems, appear to have potential to reduce violence risk. Linkages between SSNs and childhood violence are understudied, and investments should be made to close this evidence gap.
The Relationship between Parental Presence and Child Sexual Violence: Evidence from thirteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa

AUTHOR(S)
R. Kidman, Tia Palermo

Published: 2016
There are compelling reasons to believe that orphans – many millions due to the AIDS epidemic – are more likely to be sexually victimized during childhood. Few studies have empirically investigated sexual violence disparities, and those that do suffer from methodological limitations and limited geographic scope. We used nationally representative data on female adolescents (15–17 years) from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We built multilevel logistic models to test for an association between the dependent variables (orphanhood and parental absence) and sexual violence, both within countries and pooled across all countries. Approximately 10% of adolescent girls reported past experiences of sexual violence; a third of those victimized were 14 years or younger at the time of their first forced encounter. Paternal orphaning (OR 1.36, p ≤ 0.01), double orphaning (OR 1.47, p ≤ 0.05), and paternal absence (OR 1.28; p ≤ 0.05) were significantly associated with experiencing sexual violence in pooled analyses. Fewer findings reached significance within individual countries. Our findings suggest that the lack of a father in the home (due to death or absence) places girls at heightened risk for childhood sexual abuse; further research identifying pathways of vulnerability and resilience specific to this population is needed. Our findings also indicate that abuse often starts at an early age; thus promising programs should be adapted for younger age groups and rigorously tested.
Violence Against Children in the Asia Pacific Region

AUTHOR(S)
Michael P. Dunne, Wan Yuen Choo, Bernadette Madrid, Ramya Subrahmanian, Lauren Rumble, Stephen Blight, Mary Catherine Maternowska

Published: 2015

Up to the year 2000, there was very little scientific evidence in this region about the scale of child maltreatment, its effects on children, families, and society, and the resultant economic burden. Since then, many agencies large and small, government and nongovernment, and university-based researchers have worked independently with diverse groups of people to measure violence, neglect and other childhood adversities and to understand the harmful consequences.

While the accumulated evidence is mostly patchy and the methodological quality is variable, there is now enough data to compose an overall regional picture. Guided by the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific office in Bangkok, researchers completed several systematic reviews between 2012 to 2015 and that work has been complemented by reviews focused on China and Australia.

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