Violence against children in Latin America and the Caribbean: What do available data reveal about prevalence and perpetrators?

Devries et al.


To describe the prevalence of recent physical, sexual, and emotional violence against children
0 – 19 years of age in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by age, sex, and perpetrator.


A systematic review and analysis of published literature and large international datasets was conducted. Eligible sources from first record to December 2015 contained age-, sex-, and perpetrator-specific data from LAC. Random effects meta-regressions were performed, adjusting for relevant quality covariates and differences in violence definitions.


Seventy-two surveys (2 publications and 70 datasets) met inclusion criteria, representing 1 449  estimates from 34 countries. Prevalence of physical and emotional violence by caregivers ranged from 30% – 60%, and decreased with increasing age. Prevalence of physical violence by students (17% – 61%) declined with age, while emotional violence remained constant (60% – 92%). Prevalence of physical intimate partner violence (IPV) ranged from 13% – 18% for girls aged 15 – 19 years. Few or no eligible past-year estimates were available for any violence against children less than 9 years and boys 16 – 19 years of age; sexual violence against boys (any age) and girls (under 15 years); IPV except for girls aged 15 – 19 years; and violence by authority figures (e.g., teachers) or via gangs/organized crime.


Past-year physical and emotional violence by caregivers and students is widespread in LAC across all ages in childhood, as is IPV against girls aged 15 – 19 years. Data collection must be expanded in LAC to monitor progress towards the sustainable development goals, develop effective prevention and response strategies, and shed light on violence relating to organized crime/gangs.

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Original research