Global prevalence of violence against children and adolescents during COVID-19: A meta-analysis

Li Niu, Yan Li, Ruhai Bai, José A. Pagán, Donglan Zhang, Angela Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Recent studies suggest that children and adolescents are at an increased risk of experiencing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is limited knowledge about the prevalence of violence against children and adolescents across different regions in the world. Objective: To estimate the pooled prevalence of violence against children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic and explore how geographical and methodological factors explain the variation across studies. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycInfo databases for articles published from January 1, 2020 to October 1, 2022. The study protocol was pre-registered with PROSPERO (CRD42022338181). We included published and unpublished studies available in English that reported the prevalence of violence (e.g., physical, emotional, or sexual violence, neglect, bullying) against children and adolescents (age <18 years) during the pandemic. Data extraction followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. A total of 2740 nonduplicate titles and abstracts were screened, and 217 full-text articles were reviewed for eligibility. Results: Twenty-five studies with 66,637 participants met inclusion criteria. Based on random-effects meta-analysis, the pooled prevalence of violence against children and adolescents was 24 % (95%CI 18 %–30 %). The reported prevalence was higher in studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries. Conclusions: Over one in five children and adolescents globally reported ever experiencing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings highlight the urgent need for effective child protection policies and interventions, as well as multisectoral collaboration, to reduce violence against children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106873
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume154
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2024

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • COVID-19
  • Child maltreatment
  • Children
  • Global prevalence
  • Violence

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