Emotional and Physical Child Abuse in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters: a Focus on Haiti
Background: Child abuse remains a public health and human rights issue with severe consequences. Natural disasters can cause physical, social, and psychological stressors, which may lead to an increase in child directed abuse. Objective: The aim of this study was to i) investigate the social and living conditions of households in Haiti pre- and post 2010 Haiti earthquake, ii) to determine the household prevalence of emotional, physical, and severe physical abuse in children aged 2-14 post-earthquake, and iii) to explore the association between earthquake-related loss and experiences of emotional, physical, and severe physical child abuse in the household. Methods: A nationally representative sample of Haitian households from the 2005/6 (n=9888) and 2012 (n=13181) cycle of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) was used. Descriptive analysis was summarized using frequencies and measures of central tendency. Chi-squared and independent T-tests were used to compare data that was available pre-and post-earthquake. Associations between earthquake-related loss and emotional, physical, and severe physical child abuse was assessed using multivariate log-binomial regression models. Results: Comparing pre-post-earthquake, noteworthy improvements were observed in the educational attainment of the household head (9.1% decrease in “no education” category) and in possession of the following household items: electricity, television, mobile-phone, and radio. The prevalence estimates of emotional, physical, and severe physical abuse, in the month prior to the 2012 survey, was 78.5%, 77.0%, and 15.4% respectively. Two years following the earthquake, death of a household member was associated with a higher likelihood of a child being victim to emotional (RR=1.11, 95% CI: 1.05-1.17) and severe physical abuse (RR=1.49, 95% CI: 1.14-1.94). Conversely, injury of a household member was associated with a lower likelihood of a child experiencing emotional abuse (RR=0.67, 95% CI: 0.52-0.87). Visual mapping revealed that the prevalence of severe physical abuse in settlement camps was notably higher (25.0%) compared to the overall prevalence in Haiti (15.4%). Conclusions: Results of this study highlight a need to better protect children in Haiti from abuse. We found associations between some forms of earthquake related loss and child abuse patterns that would warrant further study and consideration in other contexts of natural disaster.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24932
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