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Self-Reported Cases of Child Abuse and their Effect on Emergency Department Attendance in Jamaica

Paul Andrew Bourne


Introduction:  Child abuse is a global pandemic and its effects range from minor to severe, with the matter influencing the psychosocial state of both the child and parent(s).

Objectives: This study seeks to 1) determine sex ratios for child abuse cases in Jamaica for 2007-2014; 2) examine whether there are differences in self-reported cases of child abuses in Jamaica by gender and typology of abuses for 2007-2014; 3) compute the child abuse rate in Jamaica based on children population from 2007-2014; and 4) evaluate the effect of self-reported cases of child abuse on the use of general hospitals’ emergency departments. Focus will be made on three selected public hospitals in Jamaica for 2007 to 2014.

Results: In 2007, the number of children reportedly abused was 78.9 per 100,000. The following year (i.e. 2008), the rate of abused children increased significantly by 770% (to 428.7 children per 100,000 children population).  Over the subsequent years there was a 56.6% increase (to 671.4 children per 100,000 children population). Overall, using total sex ratio, child abuse is a feminized phenomenon in Jamaica, with the worst gender disparity occurring in 2011 (i.e. sex ratio = 59.20). It means that of the total number of reported cases of child abuse in 2011, 59.2 were males for every 100 females, which speaks to the preponderance of acts committed against female children compared to male children in the nation.

Conclusions: The reality is, child abuse—sexual and physical abuse of children in Jamaica—is now at a pandemic stage and while we understand that this matter has been exponentially rising in the last four years of the studied period, the psychological effects are profound as it relates to well-being of parents and unborn children.

KEYWORDS: Child Abuse, Child Maltreatment, Emergency department utilization, Neglect.

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