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Child abuse prevalence and risk factors among female students, Dammam University, 2011


Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious life-long consequences for the child. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse and neglect that occur to a child under 18 years of age. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of child abuse and its types among female students in Dammam University, Saudi Arabia; to identify the perpetrators of child abuse among these students; and to identify the socio demographic and parent related risk factors associated with child abuse in these students.


A cross sectional study was conducted among first year female students of 3 colleges in Dammam University during the educational year 1432H/2011G. An Arabic version of standardized self-administered questionnaire of "Child Abuse Screening Tool for Young Adults form (18-24 years old)", developed by (ISPCAN) was used to collect the data.


Among the 1002 respondents, overall prevalence of all types of child abuse was 34.2%, while 13% reported exposure to more than one type of abuse. Highest percentage of students reported exposure to emotional abuse (26.5%) followed by physical abuse (16.8%) and sexual abuse (6.7%). Physical and emotional abuses were commonest in age group 10-13 years, and sexual abuse in age group 14-17 years. The most commonly reported perpetrators for physical and emotional abuse were parents, while the male relative other than father was the most commonly reported perpetrators for sexual abuse. High number of siblings (P=0.001), less educated father (P=0.007), mother leaving home for work (P<0.001) and parents fighting with each other (P<0.001) were significantly associated with exposure to any type of child abuse. Physical abuse was associated with parents fighting with each other (P<0.001) and mothers leaving home for work (P<0.001); emotional abuse was associated with number of siblings (P=0.048), father's age (P=0.003), father's education (P=0.002), parents fighting with each other (P<0.001) and mother leaving home for work (P<0.001); and sexual abuse was associated with number o siblings (P=0.047) and mother leaving home for work (P<0.001).


About one third of the study population reported being exposed to child abuse, and emotional abuse was the most common type. Parents were mostly responsible for this abuse. Family and parent characteristic (large number of sibling, older and lower educated father and presence of excessive parents fight, mother work outside home) have a significant association with exposure and severity of child abuse. Most of the respondents did not perceive their exposure as abuse.