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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2019 Mar 13:1524838019835973. doi: 10.1177/1524838019835973. [Epub ahead of print]

Child Abuse in Natural Disasters and Conflicts: A Systematic Review.

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1 Student Research Committee, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
2 Department of Health in Disaster and Emergency, School of Public Health, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran.
3 Department of Social work, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
4 Social Science Department, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran.


Violence against children affects a significant portion of youth around the world. Emergencies and natural disasters escalate the risk due to weakened child protection systems and disruption of preventative mechanisms. In this systematic review, 692 related papers were searched in various databases in the initial search. After review, 11 papers were finally selected for full review. These papers were selected based on publication date, relevance to emergencies, their geographical area type of violence, age of subjects, and their gender. Most families affected by natural disasters, especially those in lower socioeconomic status, face greater social and economic pressures. The families that are more vulnerable to loss of food and shelter commit violence against children more frequently. On the other hand, while the rate of violence increases in emergencies, the reported rate of violence is less than the actual rate due to lack of required infrastructure and reporting mechanisms. The emergency housing increased risk of some types of child abuse. The history of exposure to violence, parental substance abuse, poverty, and child labor were predictors of increased violence against children in emergency situations. Sexual violence against girls after conflicts and physical violence against boys after emergencies are common forms of violence. Poverty as another predictor exposes children to more violence due to limited family economic resources and support. Given the identified predictors of violence, humanitarian organizations can come closer to providing appropriate plans to reduce the risk during and postdisaster.


child abuse; conflicts; gender-based violence; natural disasters; polyvictimization


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