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Here you can compare these figures with homicide rates for the general population. The study also found that the link between corporal punishment and misbehavior was even stronger if parents said that they had spanked their child the week before the survey, which may be considered a sign of relatively frequent spanking. You can read a summary of this study in this overview article in The Wall Street Journal. A recent study used detailed household surveys from South Africa and Malawi to document the prevalence of violent discipline and subsequent changes in school progress among those affected.
The study found that children who were exposed to psychological and physical violence for discipline were more likely to have dropped out of school upon follow-up Sherr et al. In rich countries, for example, studies have found that individuals who are exposed to sexual and physical abuse in childhood are more likely to drop out of college Boden et al and Duncan Physical and psychological abuse are often linked to negative effects on mental and physical health.
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For example, it has been documented that anxiety and depression tend to arise more frequently among children who are abused. But there are good reasons to take them seriously. It is also the case that these hormones can impair the development of neural connections in parts of the brain that are critical for learning.
The following is an example of the type of brain development problems that researchers attribute to sensory neglect in early childhood. The source is Perry The brain of the child on the right is significantly smaller than average 3rd percentile and has signs of deterioration cortical atrophy. Of course, this comparison is just an illustration, and it is hard to know with certainty whether the observed differences in brain size can be fully attributed to sensory-deprivation neglect.
However, Perry finds that the average head size among a group of 40 children who had suffered sensory neglect is below the 5th percentile in the distribution — and while some recovery in brain-size was observed after children were removed from the neglectful environment, in most cases the gaps remained significant. These findings are relevant to child development because brain malleability is much greater earlier in life, and brain development is sequential and cumulative; which means that brain deterioration can lead to permanent impairments on skill acquisition.
You can read more about these correlates and consequences in our blog post dedicated to child maltreatment and educational outcomes.
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The interaction between violence and education operates in both directions, which means education can be used as an instrument to reduce the prevalence of violence. In Uganda, for example, a programme that provided life skills and vocational training for girls who had been forced into sexual acts, led to substantially fewer of these girls being victims of sexual abuse — an impact largely attributed to acquired skills Bandiera et al. Similarly, parenting interventions that promote skills and knowledge among parents have shown positive effects on domestic violence.
In Liberia, for example, a program that provided training in positive parenting and non-violent behavior reduced violent punishment drastically Sim et al. Most of the available cross-country data on violence against children comes from self-reported incidents and behavior in household surveys. This entails two important limitations.
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First, there is a tendency for self-reported violence to be biased. This is to be expected, since violence against children is often illegal, and even when it is not, it typically involves some of the most private aspects of everyday family life.
Secondly, there are often comparability issues, since the survey instruments often change across time and countries. Despite these limitations, the available data is still helpful to shed light on the rough order of magnitude of the problem. Much work needs to be done to improve data quality and availability on this topic.
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