Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 32, Issue 8, pp 799–806 | Cite as

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

Original Article


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.


Child abuse Child neglect Child maltreatment Etiology Cross-national 



We thank Ivan Ludlow, Chelsea Austin, and Jacqueline Hurd for their work in identifying data sources.

Author’s Contribution

JK conceptualized the study, collaborated in data collection, conducted the statistical analyses, had full access to all the data in the study, and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. KP contributed to the design of the study, collaborated in data collection, and helped interpret the data. JK and KP contributed to the drafting and revising of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


No external funding.

Ethical Approval

Secondary data analyses; IRB approval not required.


We declare no competing interests.


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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

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