Background Worldwide, violence-related injury is an increasing problem during childhood and becomes more common as the child gets older, especially in low-income countries. Rates of violence against children are high in Sub-Saharan Africa and information is scarce on the resulting injuries.
Aim This study investigates sex-related differences in the circumstances and consequences of sexual and physical violence in the Mozambican context.
Methods Cross-sectional and retrospective hospital records from 2019 at the pediatric emergency and forensic medicine units of Maputo Central Hospital were scrutinized using a standardized form.
Results Of the 321 cases identified, 60% resulted from sexual violence. Girls represented 86.4% of the victims of sexual violence and boys, 66.1% of those from physical violence. Being injured in a familiar environment and by a parent, a relative, or someone knew was strikingly common. The injury pattern varied by the form of violence and sex of the child. About half of the injuries sustained by physical violence were minor/superficial. Severe injuries requiring hospitalization (33% in total) and some specialized care (27% in total) were mainly sustained by girl victims of sexual violence.
Conclusion While circumstances and consequences of violence-related injuries have several similarities, being severely injured is more typical of girl victims of sexual violence.
Besides medical care, hospital services in Mozambique must be prepared to offer pediatric victims of violence the necessary social care.