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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 3053-3059

Child abuse and neglect in a rapidly developing country: Parents' perspectives

1 Department of Pediatrics, Section of Academic General Pediatrics, Sidra Medicine; Department of Pediatrics, Hamad General Corporation; Department of Clinical Pediatrics, Weill. Cornell Medicine, Doha, Qatar
2 Department of Pediatrics, Section of Academic General Pediatrics, Sidra Medicine, Doha, Qatar
3 Pediatric Residency Program, Hamad General Corporation, Doha, Qatar
4 Department of Surgery, Hamad General Corporation; College of Medicine, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar; School of Health and Education, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Osama Samarah
Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_971_19

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Purpose: To identify parental awareness and knowledge regarding child abuse and neglect in the State of Qatar. Methods: A cross-sectional study using a questionnaire was conducted at Hamad Medical Corporation, the only tertiary pediatric hospital in the State of Qatar at the time of the study. Parents of children of all ages were offered a questionnaire that included demographic details, parental knowledge, and awareness of child abuse and neglect. Results: 300 questionnaires were completed (response rate = 95%). More than 70% of parents were older than 30 years of age, 60% of them were females, and 66% were college graduates. The majority of the participants stated their familiarity about child abuse, and 6% witnessed morbidity or mortality due to child abuse in the society. Despite the identified laws, only 50% of the parents were aware of laws restricting child abuse. In regards to children with special needs, only 16% of the participants agreed that disabled children are at a higher risk of abuse compared to healthy children, while 33% were neutral and 52% disagreed. In addition, one-fifth of the respondents stated that hitting is discipline, while 63% disagreed. Almost one-third of the respondents agreed that hitting hands and buttock or hitting with soft objects is acceptable form of discipline. Unexpectedly, one-quarter of participants stated that it is okay to hit a child as long as no damage incurs. As for verbal abuse, around one-third of parents stated that yelling is not a form of child abuse, and that yelling does not affect growth and development. Comparing both corporal and verbal abuse, approximately 70% of parents stated that yelling is less harmful than hitting. In terms of child neglect, around half of the respondents agreed with the statement “Leaving a child (<5 years) unattended at home is a form of neglect,” while 42% were neutral. Finally, approximately 50% of the participants believed that it is okay to depend on nannies in assisting their children in eating and using the bathroom. Conclusion: Parents residing in the State of Qatar believe that they have a good knowledge regarding child abuse and neglect. However, this study shows many deficiencies in parental knowledge of child abuse and neglect. Parents' attitudes and perceptions are considered indispensable targets for community health intervention.

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