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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Pediatrics 1/2018

Child abuse and neglect in the Jaffna district of Sri Lanka – a study on knowledge attitude practices and behavior of health care professionals

BMC Pediatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
M. G. Sathiadas, Arunath Viswalingam, Karunya Vijayaratnam



Victims and perpetrators of child abuse do not typically self-report to child protection services, therefore responsibility of detection and reporting falls on the others. Knowledge on child protection is essential for the first contact person and such information is sparse in research literature originally coming from Sri Lanka. Anecdotally, several cases of child abuse have been missed out at the first contact level. Therefore we undertook this survey to assess the knowledge, attitudes towards child protection and the experiences of medical officers, nursing officers and social workers on child protection.


This was a descriptive analytical study carried out in hospitals and the community during March–October 2016. An anonymous content validated self-administered questionnaire was used as the study instrument. Knowledge, Attitude, Practices and Behaviour were assessed via multiple choice questions and responses according to Likert score. Three anonymised case records were given as case vignettes to be studied by the participants and their responses were also recorded on the questionnaire.


Among the 246 responders 156 (63.4%) were doctors. All groups of professionals identified the forms of child abuse correctly and the social indicators of child abuse was correctly identified in 152 (61.7%). Majority failed to identify the features of the perpetrator. Majority of the professionals showed a favourable response in attitude when dealing with child maltreatment. 153 (62%) had suspected child abuse in their career and 64% of them had reported it to the authority. Fifty two (21%) had attended a training workshop on child abuse and 65.8% of the responders were not satisfied with their knowledge. 229(93%) of them indicated that they wanted some form of education on child maltreatment. The Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour towards child abuse were significantly good on people with experience in the field of Paediatrics and Judicial Medical work, when compared to those who did not have the experience in these two fields. (p value< 0.01).


Although the knowledge among health professionals regarding child abuse and care was satisfactory, further areas need reinforcement. The attitude was more positive, the behavior and practices on child maltreatment needed reinforcement via workshops and continuing medical education.
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