Gender Inequity Associated with Increased Child Physical Abuse and Neglect: a Cross-Country Analysis of Population-Based Surveys and Country-Level Statistics

Original Article

Abstract

Gender inequity is proposed as a societal-level risk factor for child maltreatment. However, most cross-national research examining this association is limited to developing countries and has used limited measures of gender inequity and child homicides as a proxy for child maltreatment. To examine the relationship between gender inequity and child maltreatment, we used caregivers’ reported use of severe physical punishment (proxy for physical abuse) and children under 5 left alone or under the care of another child younger than 10 years of age (supervisory neglect) and three indices of gender inequity (the Social and Institutional Gender Index, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Gender Gap Index) from 57 countries, over half of which were developing countries. We found all three gender inequity indices to be significantly associated with physical abuse and two of the three to be significantly associated with neglect, after controlling for country-level development. Based on these findings, efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect might benefit from reducing gender inequity.

Keywords

Child abuse Child neglect Child maltreatment Etiology Cross-national 

References

  1. Baron, L., & Straus, M. A. (1987). Four theories of rape: A macrosociological analysis. Social Problems, 34(5), 467–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Briggs, C. M., & Cutright, P. (1994). Structural and cultural determinants of child homicide: A cross national analysis. Violence and Victims, 9(1), 3–16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks-Gunn, J., Schneider, W., & Waldfogel, J. (2013). The great recession and the risk for child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(10), 721–729. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.08.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Butchart, A., & Engström, K. (2002). Sex- and age-specific relations between economic development, economic inequality and homicide rates in people aged 0–24 years: A cross-sectional analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 80(10), 797–805.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Christoffel, K. K., Kiang, L., & Stamler, J. (1981). Epidemiology of fatal child abuse: International mortality data. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 34(2), 57–64. doi:10.1016/0021-9681(81)90051-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Coulton, C. J., Crampton, D. S., Irwin, M., Spilsbury, J. C., & Korbin, J. E. (2007). How neighborhoods influence child maltreatment: A review of the literature and alternative pathways. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(11), 1117–1142. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.03.023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fiala, R., & LaFree, G. (1988). Cross-national determinants of child homicide. American Sociological Review, 53(3), 432–445. doi:10.2307/2095650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Finkelhor, D., Vanderminden, J., Turner, H., Hamby, S., & Shattuck, A. (2014). Child maltreatment rates assessed in a national household survey of caregivers and youth. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(9), 1421–1435. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.05.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Freisthler, B., Merritt, D. H., & LaScala, E. A. (2006). Understanding the ecology of child maltreatment: A review of the literature and directions for future research. Child Maltreatment, 11(3), 263–280. doi:10.1177/1077559506289524.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Garbarino, J. (1977). The human ecology of child maltreatment: A conceptual model for research. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 39(4), 721–735. doi:10.2307/350477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gartner, R. (1990). The victims of homicide: A temporal and cross-national comparison. American Sociological Review, 55(1), 92–106. doi:10.2307/2095705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gartner, R. (1991). Family structure, welfare, spending, and child homicide in developed democracies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53(1), 231–240. doi:10.2307/353147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gelles, R. J. (1991). Physical violence, child abuse, and child homicide: A continuum of violence, or distinct behaviors? Human Nature, 2(1), 59–72. doi:10.1007/BF02692181.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gordon, R. A., Usdansky, M. L., Wang, X., & Guzman, A. (2011). Child care and mothers’ mental health: Is high-quality care associated with fewer depressive symptoms? Family Relations, 60(4), 446–460. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00657.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heaton, T. B. (2015). Are improvements in child health due to increasing status of women in developing nations? Biodemography and Social Biology, 61(3), 252–265. doi:10.1080/19485565.2015.1047487.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hunnicutt, G., & LaFree, G. (2008). Reassessing the structural covariates of cross-national infant homicide victimization. Homicide Studies, 12(1), 46–66. doi:10.1177/1088767907311245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Klevens, J., Barnett, S. B. L., Florence, C., & Moore, D. (2015). Exploring policies for the reduction of child physical abuse and neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 40, 1–11. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.07.013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Klevens, J., Luo, F., Xu, L., Peterson, C., & Latzman, N. E. (2016). Paid family leave's effect on hospital admissions for pediatric abusive head trauma. Injury Prevention, 22(6), 442–445. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041702.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Laird, S. E. (2016). ‘If parents are punished for asking their children to feed goats’: Supervisory neglect in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Social Work, 16(3), 303–321. doi:10.1177/1468017315572037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lansford, J. E., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2012). Childrearing discipline and violence in developing countries. Child Development, 83(1), 62–75. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01676.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K., Bornstein, M. H., Putnick, D. L., & Bradley, R. H. (2014). Attitudes justifying domestic violence predict endorsement of corporal punishment and physical and psychological aggression towards children: A study in 25 low- and middle-income countries. Journal of Pediatrics, 164(5), 1208–1213. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.11.060.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Moniruzzaman, S., & Andersson, R. (2008). Cross-national injury mortality differentials by income level: The possible role of age and ageing. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 122(11), 1167–1176. doi:10.1080/14034940510006021.Google Scholar
  23. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016). Social institutions and gender index (SIGI) [data set]. Retrieved from: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=GID2.
  24. Putnam, S., & Galea, S. (2008). Epidemiology and the macrosocial determinants of health. Journal Public Health Policy, 29(3), 275–289. doi:10.1057/jphp.2008.15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Runyan, D., Wattam, C., Ikeda, R., Hassan, F., & Ramiro, L. (2002). Child abuse and neglect bny parents and other caregivers. In E. Krug, L. L. Dahlberg, J. A. Mercy, A. B. Zwi, & R. Lozano (Eds.), World report on violence and health (pp. 59–86). Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  26. Stith, S. M., Liu, T., Davies, C., Boykin, E. L., Alder, M. C., Harris, J. M., ... &, Dees, J. E. (2009). Risk factors in child maltreatment: A meta-analytic review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(1), 13–29. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2006.03.0.
  27. Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., IJzendoorn, M. H., & Alink, L. R. (2013a). Cultural–geographical differences in the occurrence of child physical abuse? A meta-analysis of global prevalence. International Journal of Psychology, 48(2), 81–94. doi:10.1080/00207594.2012.697165.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2013b). The neglect of child neglect: A meta-analytic review of the prevalence of neglect. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(3), 345–355. doi:10.1007/s00127-012-0549-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. UNICEF. (2008). The state of the world’s children 2007: Women and children: The double dividend of gender equality. New York, NY: United Nations Children's Fund Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org/sowc07/.Google Scholar
  30. UNICEF (2015). Multiple indicator cluster surveys. New York: United Nations Children's Fund. Retrieved from: http://mics.unicef.org/surveys.
  31. United Nations Development Program. (2015a). Human development report statistical annex, table 2. Human development index trends. New York, NY: United Nations Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr_2015_statistical_annex.Google Scholar
  32. United Nations Development Program (2015b). Gender inequality index [data set]. \ Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/GII.
  33. USAID. Demographic and Health Surveys Program (2016). Demographic and health surveys. Rockville: USAID, The DHS Program. Retrieved from: http://www.dhsprogram.com/.
  34. Viola, T. W., Salum, G. A., Kluwe-Schiavon, B., Sanvicente-Vieira, B., Levandowski, M. L., & Grassi-Oliveira, R. (2016). The influence of geographical and economic factors in estimates of childhood abuse and neglect using the childhood trauma questionnaire: A worldwide meta-regression analysis. Child Abuse & Neglect, 51(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. WHO (2016a). Child Maltreatment Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs150/en/.
  36. WHO (2016b). INSPIRE: Seven strategies for ending violence against children. Geneva: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/inspire/en/.
  37. World Economic Forum (2014). Global Gender Gap Report, 2014: Gender Gap Index [data set]. Retrieved from: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/wp-content/blogs.dir/60/mp/files/pages/files/gggr-2014-table-b1.pdf.

Copyright information

© US Government (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)AtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations