Background Child maltreatment is a complex issue, and defining the phenomenon is a great challenge. While the definitions used in literature today are mostly intended to operationalize in western societies, are less understood to developing country contexts. This study aims to explore the perceptions of child maltreatment by children, parents, school teachers, owners of workplace and child right professionals in Bangladesh, and to understand psychological, physical and social consequences of maltreatment.
Methods Qualitative semi-structured interviews and key informant interviews were used to collect data materials. The study population was strategically selected from designated areas comprising samples of school going vs non-school going, urban vs rural, low vs high socioeconomic combinations. A total of 51 persons participated in interviews (24 children, 16 parents, 6 school teachers, and 5 owners); 1 professional participated in key informant interview. Qualitative content analysis is used to analyse the data.
Results A strong cultural difference in child abuse was indicated in child perception. Children were abused repeatedly in various forms, with abuse in childhood shifted from home to workplace when becoming adolescent. It seems as not firstly being physical punished, but instead; they were being used/exploited with no or very little salary, late payments and/or threatened not to be paid, notice to quit the job, deduction of salary, and accusations for being lazy, broken things/glasses, etc. without reason. Poverty and strict disciplinary actions taken by caregivers found to be associated with school dropout.
Conclusions This study accomplishes two goals: it highlights the cultural context in defining the child maltreatment in a developing country’s perspective. More importantly, the study addresses an area that has formerly been ignored and less understood in countries such as Bangladesh, and brings the issue in a public health perspective.
- developing country