Objective The Convention on the Rights of the Child has prompted countries to protect children from abuse and exploitation. Exposure to domestic violence and corporal punishment are risk factors in children's development. This study investigated how women's attitudes about domestic violence are related to attitudes about corporal punishment and harsh behaviors toward children, and whether country-wide norms regarding domestic violence and corporal punishment are related to psychological aggression and physical violence toward children. Study design Data were drawn from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, a nationally representative and internationally comparable household survey developed by the United Nations Children's Fund. Measures of domestic violence and discipline were completed by 85 999 female caregivers of children between the ages of 2 and 14 years from families in 25 low- and middle-income countries. Results Mothers who believed that husbands were justified in hitting their wives were more likely to believe that corporal punishment is necessary to rear children. Mothers who believed that husbands were justified in hitting their wives and that corporal punishment is necessary to rear children were more likely to report that their child had experienced psychological aggression and physical violence. Countrywide norms regarding the acceptability of husbands hitting wives and advisability of corporal punishment moderated the links between mothers' attitudes and their behaviors toward children. Conclusions Pediatricians can address parents' psychological aggression and physical violence toward children by discussing parents' attitudes and behaviors within a framework that incorporates social norms regarding the acceptability of domestic violence and corporal punishment.
- Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health