Prevalence of physical violence against children in Haiti: A national population-based cross-sectional survey

Katherine T. Flynn-O'Brien, Frederick P. Rivara, Noel S. Weiss, Veronica A. Lea, Louis H. Marcelin, John Vertefeuille, James A. Mercy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Although physical violence against children is common worldwide, there are no national estimates in Haiti. To establish baseline national estimates, a three-stage clustered sampling design was utilized to administer a population-based household survey about victimization due to physical violence to 13-24 year old Haitians (n= 2,916), including those residing in camps or settlements. Descriptive statistics and weighted analysis techniques were used to estimate national lifetime prevalence and characteristics of physical violence against children. About two-thirds of respondents reported having experienced physical violence during childhood (67.0%; 95% CI 63.4-70.4), the percentage being similar in males and females. More than one-third of 13-17 year old respondents were victimized in the 12 months prior to survey administration (37.8%; 95% CI 33.6-42.1). The majority of violence was committed by parents and teachers; and the perceived intent was often punishment or discipline. While virtually all (98.8%; 95% CI 98.0-99.3) victims of childhood physical violence were punched, kicked, whipped or beaten; 11.0% (95% CI 9.2-13.2) were subject to abuse by a knife or other weapon. Injuries sustained from violence varied by victim gender and perpetrator, with twice as many females (9.6%; 95% CI 7.1-12.7) than males (4.0%; 95% CI 2.6-6.1) sustaining permanent injury or disfigurement by a family member or caregiver (p-value < .001). Our findings suggest that physical violence against children in Haiti is common, and may lead to severe injury. Characterization of the frequency and nature of this violence provides baseline estimates to inform interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Child abuse
  • Children
  • Epidemiology
  • Haiti
  • Physical violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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