Objective To explore patterns of physical, emotional and sexual violence against Ugandan children.
Design Latent class and multinomial logistic regression analysis of cross-sectional data.
Setting Luwero District, Uganda.
Participants In all, 3706 primary 5, 6 and 7 students attending 42 primary schools.
Main outcome and measure To measure violence, we used the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Child Abuse Screening Tool—Child Institutional. We used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to assess mental health and administered reading, spelling and maths tests.
Results We identified three violence classes. Class 1 (N=696 18.8%) was characterised by emotional and physical violence by parents and relatives, and sexual and emotional abuse by boyfriends, girlfriends and unrelated adults outside school. Class 2 (N=975 26.3%) was characterised by physical, emotional and sexual violence by peers (male and female students). Children in Classes 1 and 2 also had a high probability of exposure to emotional and physical violence by school staff. Class 3 (N=2035 54.9%) was characterised by physical violence by school staff and a lower probability of all other forms of violence compared to Classes 1 and 2. Children in Classes 1 and 2 were more likely to have worked for money (Class 1 Relative Risk Ratio 1.97, 95% CI 1.54 to 2.51; Class 2 1.55, 1.29 to 1.86), been absent from school in the previous week (Class 1 1.31, 1.02 to 1.67; Class 2 1.34, 1.10 to 1.63) and to have more mental health difficulties (Class 1 1.09, 1.07 to 1.11; Class 2 1.11, 1.09 to 1.13) compared to children in Class 3. Female sex (3.44, 2.48 to 4.78) and number of children sharing a sleeping area predicted being in Class 1.
Conclusions Childhood violence in Uganda forms distinct patterns, clustered by perpetrator and setting. Research is needed to understand experiences of victimised children, and to develop mental health interventions for those with severe violence exposures.
Trial registration number NCT01678846; Results.
- Childhood violence
- Child mental health
- Emotional violence
- Sexual violence
- Physical violence
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