Intimate Partner Violence and Early Childhood Development

Alemann et al.


To describe the prevalence of different types of intimate partner violence and estimate how this relates to child development in a low-income country in Latin America. The relationship between intimate partner violence and childcare practices, including the use of physical punishment, was also examined.


An observational study was conducted using data collected as a baseline for an impact evaluation of the National Early Childhood Program in Nicaragua between 2013 and 2014. The sample included 8 921 children between 0 and 5 years and 7 436 mothers or caregivers in municipalities with an extreme poverty rate
of over 0.2.


The data revealed that 61% of mothers or caregivers reported controlling behavior by their partners, 50% suffered emotional violence, and 26% suffered physical violence at some point in their lives. Furthermore, the data demonstrated that children exposed to intimate partner violence displayed greater behavioral problems and delayed language and social-emotional development. These children are also more likely to be born prematurely and to have incomplete vaccination schedules. Finally, homes exposed to intimate partner violence are more likely to create more hostile and unsafe environments for children.


The results reflect the magnitude of intimate partner violence and its detrimental effects on children. Public policies need to be devised and implemented not only to prevent this behavior and mitigate sequelae in exposed children but also to curb the intergenerational transmission of violence.

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Original research