Cultural–geographical differences in the occurrence of child physical abuse? A meta‐analysis of global prevalence

Marije Stoltenborgh, Marian J. Bakermans‐Kranenburg, Marinus H. IJzendoorn, Lenneke R. A. Alink
Published Online:
18 Apr 2013
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 2

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Our comprehensive meta‐analysis combined prevalence figures of child physical abuse reported in 111 studies, including 168 independent samples with a total of 9,698,801 participants. The overall estimated prevalence was 3/1000 for studies using informants and 226/1000 for studies using self‐report measures of child physical abuse, with no apparent gender differences. Methodological factors partly explained the vast variation of self‐reported prevalence rates in individual studies. The highest prevalence rates were found for studies using a broad definition of child physical abuse, studies measuring physical abuse over the longest period of 0–18 years, studies using college samples, studies in which adults served as respondents, and studies using more questions on physical abuse. Cultural–geographical factors did not seem to affect prevalence rates of physical abuse, which may be partly due to procedural factors. More crosscultural research on physical abuse is badly needed, especially in Africa and South America. We conclude that child physical abuse is a widespread, global phenomenon affecting the lives of millions of children all over the world, which is in sharp contrast with the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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