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Pediatr Clin North Am. 1998 Apr;45(2):415-26.

Violence against children and adolescents. International perspectives.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Selected topics of violence against children and adolescents that occur in countries outside of the United States are discussed. Focus is given to middle-income and low-income countries and emphasis is placed on the epidemiology of this pressing public health problem, particularly on conditions that are peculiar to children and adolescents in international settings, such as female genital mutilations, wars, displacements, and land mines. The discussion of child maltreatment is presented in the context of child rearing and discipline in different cultures. Recommendations for action and violence prevention are offered in the light of vast cultural differences.


This article reviews the literature on various aspects of violence against children and adolescents in middle- and low-income countries to reveal the epidemiology and public health consequences and offer recommendations. The first section of the article, on the maltreatment of children, considers how child rearing, discipline, and punishment practices differ in different cultures and then focuses on 1) child maltreatment by intentional injuries such as culturally sanctioned burning and cutting and 2) infanticide. The chapter continues with a look at studies of the epidemiology of child sexual abuse and at the practice of female genital mutilation. The next topics examined are child and adolescent homicide and assault and adolescent suicide, all of which are shown to be on the increase. Finally, the effects of wars, displacement, and ethnic cleansing as well as of land mines and other unexploded lethal weapons are reviewed. It is concluded that health practitioners should oppose all forms of violence and should apply a public health, population-level approach to efforts to prevent and control violence. Health practitioners should espouse the view that the safety of each child and adolescent is the responsibility of all.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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