Patterns and predictors of violence against children in Uganda: A latent class analysis

Kelly Clarke, Praveetha Patalay, Elizabeth Allen, Louise Knight, Dipak Naker, Karen Devries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore patterns of physical, emotional and sexual violence against Ugandan children. Design: Latent class and multinomial logistic regression analysis of cross-sectional data. Setting: Luwero District, Uganda. Participants: In all, 3706 primary 5, 6 and 7 students attending 42 primary schools. Main outcome and measure: To measure violence, we used the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Child Abuse Screening Tool-Child Institutional. We used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to assess mental health and administered reading, spelling and maths tests. Results: We identified three violence classes. Class 1 (N=696 18.8%) was characterised by emotional and physical violence by parents and relatives, and sexual and emotional abuse by boyfriends, girlfriends and unrelated adults outside school. Class 2 (N=975 26.3%) was characterised by physical, emotional and sexual violence by peers (male and female students). Children in Classes 1 and 2 also had a high probability of exposure to emotional and physical violence by school staff. Class 3 (N=2035 54.9%) was characterised by physical violence by school staff and a lower probability of all other forms of violence compared to Classes 1 and 2. Children in Classes 1 and 2 were more likely to have worked for money (Class 1 Relative Risk Ratio 1.97, 95% CI 1.54 to 2.51; Class 2 1.55, 1.29 to 1.86), been absent from school in the previous week (Class 1 1.31, 1.02 to 1.67; Class 2 1.34, 1.10 to 1.63) and to have more mental health difficulties (Class 1 1.09, 1.07 to 1.11; Class 2 1.11, 1.09 to 1.13) compared to children in Class 3. Female sex (3.44, 2.48 to 4.78) and number of children sharing a sleeping area predicted being in Class 1. Conclusions: Childhood violence in Uganda forms distinct patterns, clustered by perpetrator and setting. Research is needed to understand experiences of victimised children, and to develop mental health interventions for those with severe violence exposures. Trial registration number: NCT01678846; Results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere010443
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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