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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 11  |  Page : 3525-3530  

Assessment of knowledge and attitude about child abuse amongst parents visiting rural tertiary care hospital in central India

Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission05-May-2019
Date of Decision14-May-2019
Date of Acceptance28-May-2019
Date of Web Publication15-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Yashika Sharma
Sharada Hostel DMIMSU Campus Sawangi, Wardha - 442 001, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_366_19

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Introduction: Child abuse is one of the pressing human rights issues which still needs to be highlighted for general public, especially in traditional societies. This study depicts perspectives of parents and caregivers. Methods: The study was, conducted amongst parents visiting paediatric department (OPD and ward) at Rural Tertiary care Hospital in central India. A questionnaire was prepared and filled by parents and then was statistically analysed. Results: It was seen that: 1. Majority of parents lack knowledge regarding children's education and protection (POSCO and RTE) 2. Most parents were in favour of having better career prospects for Male child. 3. Parents were also asked regarding physical, emotional and mental health of a child. Majority of the parents were of the opinion that children should be distinguished based on academic performances. The study also recommended various measures to combat child abuse.

Keywords: Abuse, central India, child abuse, parents

How to cite this article:
Sharma Y, Mathur K. Assessment of knowledge and attitude about child abuse amongst parents visiting rural tertiary care hospital in central India. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:3525-30

How to cite this URL:
Sharma Y, Mathur K. Assessment of knowledge and attitude about child abuse amongst parents visiting rural tertiary care hospital in central India. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Sep 28];8:3525-30. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2019/8/11/3525/270915

  Background Top

Child abuse or child maltreatment is any kind of physical, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver. Child abuse may include any act or failure to act by a parent or other caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child, and can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with.

Child abuse is when harm or threat of harm is made to a child by someone acting in the role of caretaker. It is a worldwide problem with no social, ethnic, and racial bounds. The five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect are physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse and witnessing family violence.[1] Child abuse can be in the form of physical abuse, when the child suffers bodily harm as a result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the child, or severe discipline or physical punishment inappropriate to the child's age. It can be sexual abuse arising from subjecting the child to inappropriate exposure to sexual acts or materials or passive use of the child as sexual stimuli and/or actual sexual contacts. Child abuse can also be in the form of emotional abuse involving coercive, constant belittling, shaming, humiliating a child, making negative comparisons to others, frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying of the child, rejecting and ignoring the child as punishment, having limited physical contact with the child (e.g. no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection), exposing the child to violence or abuse of others or any other demeaning acts. All these factors can lead to interference with the child's normal social or psychological development leaving the child with lifelong psychological scars.

”Chadi laage cham cham vidhya aye gham gham”.

This Marathi proverb reflects one of the physical child abuse undertaken by school teachers, though it was for better academic outcome from the child students. Irrespective of intention, the child may succumb to it with worsening of future. It is very much essential to know the knowledge and awareness of parents, so as to take the appropriate steps to curtail the incidence of child abuse in Indian population.

Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Some of the factors that may contribute to the likelihood of abuse occurring include:[2]

  • Isolation and lack of support
  • Stress
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Intellectual disability
  • Lack of parenting skills
  • Mental illness
  • Drug, alcohol or gambling problems
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Poor childhood experiences.

The presence of one or more of these factors may be an indicator that a child could be neglected or abused.[2] According to a Save the Children, a non-profitable NGO the recent statistics regarding child abuse in India are:[3]

  • The number of cases registered for child abuse raised from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in the year 2015, under the POSCO act. Sexual offences and kidnapping accounts for 81% of the crime against minors.
  • Preventive measures designed to ward off strangers were found to be ineffective as most of the offenders were either relatives, acquaintances or somebody they trust.
  • Uttar Pradesh emerged as the state with highest child abuse cases (3,078), followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,687), Tamil Nadu (1,544), Karnataka (1,480) and Gujarat (1,416).

The global scenario of the problem is:

  • Globally in 2014, 1 billion children aged 2-17 years experienced physical, sexual, emotional or multiple types of violence.[4]
  • A quarter of all adults' report having been physically abused as children.[5]
  • One in five women and one in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child.[5]
  • In 2014, children comprised 28 percent of detected trafficking victims.[6]
  • Every year, there are an estimated 41,000 homicide deaths in children under 15 years of age.[5]

(as per the data of UNICEF) [Figure 1][7]
Figure 1: Number of countries with available data in UNICEF databases for selection of child protection indicators (200-2014)

Click here to view

This project focus on knowledge of various forms of child abuse amongst parents. This study tries to focus on different forms of abuse (sexual or otherwise) and knowledge of parents regarding personal life and social life of their child.

The study evidently points out towards the following:

  • Majority of people will only intervene if somebody is hitting a child in public.
  • Plentiful of people to some extent agree that child abuse is just a form of sexual violence
  • Considerable amount of subject feels impartial about withdrawal of corporal punishment, neglection as a form of child abuse and verbally offending and humiliating as form of punishment.
  • There have been variable differences amongst parents on their opinion about violence against girls, their career choices and the amenities they provide to their male and female child.

Further study is compared with various research done:

  • Sexual abuse in adolescents in Kerala.[8]
  • Punitive parenting in contemporary parents of New Zealand .[9]
  • Bullying amongst school children.[10]
  • Child abuse amongst university students in Egypt.[11]

Further the study suggests various measures:

  1. Training program for medical personnel.[12]
  2. Raising awareness.[13]

  Methodology Top

Sample size: about 200 families will be studied.

Type of study: cross sectional study.

Sampling procedure: Child belonging to urban and rural population will be included. Age limit taken is 15 years. Those families residing in Gram Panchayat area will be termed as rural and residing in Nagar Parishad or Zilla Parishad will be termed as urban families (having proof of residence as voting or Aadhar card).

Families visiting the paediatric department will be assessed (both OPD and Ward). Families of single parenting or child bearing widow will also be included. With the help of questionnaire, required information will be collected after having informed consent of respective parent. The identity and address noted will be kept confidential. Only the obtained information will be analyzed.

Data collection tool: A questionnaire in English language will be prepared to include various parameters of the study to ethical guidelines. Questionnaires will be explained to parents in their own local language like Hindi and Marathi.

Analysis plan: Data obtained will be statistically analyzed by using appropriate software.

The results of this study are as follows:

  1. Majority of parents' lack knowledge regarding different laws for children's protection and education [Figure 2].
  2. Figure 2: Parent-child relationship (1)

    Click here to view

    1. Only 3% of parents are very well informed about POSCO act (protection of children against sexual offences act, 2012)
    2. Only 28.5% of parents have knowledge regarding RTE act (right to education act, 2009)
    3. These were parents who were residing in urban areas and were either doctors or teachers or principals.

  3. Many parents whether rural and urban residents believe in providing in “almost” in terms of education and amenities but many (38.5%-64.5%) still believe that only girls are abused sexually [Figure 2].
  4. Many parents (18.6%-43.7%) still believe that career choices of a male child matter more than a female child [Figure 3].
  5. Figure 3: Parent-child relationship (2)

    Click here to view
  6. Opinion of parents regarding violence amongst children (bullying or fighting) and physical violence at home and school (corporal punishment) are very refined and decent [Figure 4].
  7. Figure 4: Knowledge regarding the laws

    Click here to view

    1. More than 68.5% subjects believe that it is unjustified if their child bully others [Figure 5].
    2. More than 75% subjects disagree that a stubborn child only be handled by physical punishment [Figure 5] and [Figure 6].
    3. Around 69.6% of subjects are against corporal punishment [Figure 6].
    4. Figure 5: Different forms of child abuse (1)

      Click here to view
      Figure 6: Different forms of child abuse (2)

      Click here to view
    5. When asked, regarding intervention if a parent is hitting their child 14.5% subjects said they would never intervene and 32% said they would intervene only if in public [Figure 7].
    6. Figure 7: Offending a child's self-esteem

      Click here to view

  8. Many parents were unsure regarding the emotional element of the child [Figure 8] and [Figure 9].
  9. Figure 8: Male and female differences

    Click here to view
    Figure 9: School factors

    Click here to view

    1. Around 53.3% subjects disagree that children can get mental problems like depression and anxiety [Figure 9].
    2. Around 48.2% subjects have opinion that it is okay to verbally offend and humiliate the child as a form of punishment.
    3. Prime part is 16.6-69.3% of subjects believe that it is necessary to discuss with the child before making important decisions concerning them.
    4. Around 52.5% subjects disagree that neglecting a child is a form of child abuse.

  10. Majority of parents (10.5-65.5%) believe that child abuse is just sexual violence.
  11. Around 56.5% parents are in favour of differentiating children based on their academic abilities. This provides a background that only academically sound students should be provided with opportunities [Figure 9].
  12. Around 53% parents agree that they frequently fight in front on their child.
  13. Around 45.7% have opinion that it is fine if they do not provide the child with food for more than 8 hours as a form of punishment.
  14. Around 42.1% parents agree frequently bribing their child.

  Conclusion Top

The present study suggested the lack of knowledge amongst parents regarding child abuse, including sexual violence, physical violence, negligence and mental abuse. Abuse on children cannot be categorized based on gender as both male and female witness this some levels.

As a parent, it is very important to understand the child and their world. Patience is the key factor here. Sometimes, child abuse can result is psychosomatic and psychological disturbances leading to a stressful adulthood. More and more reforms are needed to spread awareness. More studies are need to be conducted amongst parents and children, which can include child labour, child trafficking, teen pregnancies and etc.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Australian institute of family studies. Effects of child abuse and neglect for adult survivors [Internet]. January 2014. [cited 2018 Sep. 5]. Available from: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/effects-child-abuse-and-neglect-adult-survivors/.  Back to cited text no. 1
Queensland government. Why you should report child abuse [Internet]. March 2018. [cited Sep. 15]. Available from: https://www.qld.gov.au/community/getting-support-health-social-issue/support-victims-abuse/child-abuse/why-report-child-abuse/.  Back to cited text no. 2
Save the children. Recent statistics of child abuse [Internet]. September 2016. [cited 2018 Sep 02]. Available from: https://www.savethechildren.in/resource-centre/articles/recent-statistics-of-child-abuse/.  Back to cited text no. 3
World Health Organization Media Centre Fact Sheet. Violence Against Children [Internet] February 2018. [cited Sep 03]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/violence-against-children/en/.  Back to cited text no. 4
World Health Organization Media Centre Fact Sheet N°150. Child Maltreatment [Internet], September 2016. [cited Sep 26]. Available from: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/child-maltreatment/.  Back to cited text no. 5
UNODC. Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.16.IV.6) [Internet]. January 2016. [cited Sep 28]. Available from: https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf/.  Back to cited text no. 6
UNICEF. Global Statistics on Children's Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse [INTERNET] March 2014. [cited Sep 30]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/protection/files/1412886011_Global_Statistics_on_CP_Brochure_HR_pdf.  Back to cited text no. 7
Krishnakumar P, Sathe Esan K, Geeta MG, Sureshkumar K. Prevalence and spectrum of sexual abuse among adolescents in Kerala, South India. Indian J Pediatr 2014;81:770-4.  Back to cited text no. 8
Woodward LJ, Fergusson DM, Chesney A, Horwood LJ. Punitive parenting practices of contemporary young parents. N Z Med J 2007;120:U2866.  Back to cited text no. 9
Ramya SG, Kulkarni ML. Bullying among school children: Prevalence and association with common symptoms in childhood. Indian J Pediatr 2011;78:307-10.  Back to cited text no. 10
Aboul-Hagag KE-S, Hamed AF. Prevalence and pattern of child sexual abuse reported by cross sectional study among the University students, Sohag University, Egypt. Egypt J Forensic Sci 2012;2:89-96.  Back to cited text no. 11
Tanoue K, Senda M, An B, Tasaki M, Taguchi M, Kobashi K, et al. Training program for Japanese medical personnel to combat child maltreatment. Pediatr Int 2017;59:764-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Megan MacCutcheon. What You Can Do to Raise Awareness of Child Abuse [Internet]. April 3, 2017. [cited 2018 Sep 10]. Available from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-you-can-do-to-raise-awareness-of-child-abuse-0403175/.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9]

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