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child abuse in LAC

Child Abuse in Latin America and the Caribbean

The PAHO team on Violence and Injury Prevention made a presentation (PowerPoint, 37 slides with notes, 386 KB) on this topic in Ottawa in November 2001 at the Panel Discussion of the 8th Canadian Conference on International Health, entitled Child and Youth Health: Action, Research and Advocacy


To give an overview of the situation of child abuse in Latin America and the Caribbean. There is a lack of data in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) on child abuse and maltreatment, due to difficulties in implementing an epidemiological surveillance system. The lack of such a system makes it difficult both to understand the situation of child abuse in LAC and to implement prevention programs to stop it.


A literature review was conducted from a bibliography entitled Violence in Children: Abused Children, composed of citations from 1995-2001 taken from Medline, Lilacs and other databases. Focus was specifically on the child-abuse subsection. After reviewing the pertinent areas for child abuse in Latin America and the Caribbean, some conclusions were drawn about the situation and the methodologies of the studies.


Child abuse is a problem in both Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the types of child abuse vary. For example, corporal punishment is more prominent in Latin America: specific studies were conducted in Mexico and Chile to validate this theory. Sexual abuse and exploitation is one of the more common types of child abuse in the Caribbean.


The situation of child abuse in Latin America and the Caribbean is not clearly defined, due to the lack of surveillance systems within these countries. Most of the studies read for this paper could not be reproduced, due to the sample population not being representative of the whole population. Therefore, the validity of these studies is questionable.

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