Youth living in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, who experienced alcohol-related abuse and neglect were also more likely to be allowed to drink by their parents or caregivers, according to a study led by a researcher from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
Child abuse and neglect has been linked to devastating consequences, including poor school performance, chronic diseases, HIV, mental health issues and suicide. And alcohol misuse by parents and caregivers is a major risk factor for child abuse and neglect, the team of researchers noted.
“In our study, children who reported physical abuse and neglect also reported a higher prevalence of past-year alcohol use and an earlier age of alcohol use initiation,” the researchers said. “Our findings clearly demonstrate increased levels of alcohol use and alcohol-related behavior among children who report abuse and neglect.”
In this study, researchers surveyed more than 1,100 children age 12 to 18 during the spring of 2014. The children attended the Uganda Youth Development Link drop-in centers for vulnerable youth in Kampala—Uganda’s largest city and its capital.
The results are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the article “Alcohol-Related Physical Abuse of Children in the Slums of Kampala, Uganda.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Monica Swahn, distinguished professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Georgia State. For six years, Dr. Swahn, has researched the harms caused by alcohol among the youth living in Kampala, Uganda’s slums and is a Fulbright Scholar at Makerere University.
Physical abuse was reported by 380 of the children surveyed, and 140 reported experiencing alcohol-related physical abuse specifically. Alcohol-related neglect was reported among 212 of the children.
While researchers found no significant differences among the children who experienced abuse and those who did not, there were among the children who experienced alcohol-related abuse. Boys and children with one or both parents deceased were more likely to have experienced this specific kind of abuse.
The study’s authors also included public health PhD student Ms. Rachel Culbreth and Dr. Shannon Self-Brown, professor of health promotion and behavior, both at Georgia State University; Dr. Catherine Staton with Duke University Medical Center; and Rogers Kasirye, executive director of the Uganda Youth Development Link.