Skip to main content

31 July 2023

IoPPN Youth Awards blog by Lucia Soto Bazan

Lucia Soto Bazan

Finding the proportion of children in low-income and lower-middle-income countries who have been exposed to intimate partner violence was the goal of this study.

Children playing in the park

Primary paper: Kieselbach, B., Kimber, M., MacMillan, H. L., & Perneger, T. (2022). Prevalence of childhood exposure to intimate partner violence in low-income and lower-middle-income countries: a systematic review. BMJ open, 12(4), e051140.


Finding the proportion of children in low-income and lower-middle-income countries who have been exposed to intimate partner violence was the goal of this study. Researchers employed primary quantitative studies that were done in low- and low-middle-income nations with children under age 18 and included a measure of self-reported IPV exposure. With a total of 231,512 participants in 62 studies, the researchers concluded that nearly one-third of children in low- and lower-middle-income countries have been exposed to IPV in their lifetimes. This indicates that children's exposure to IPV is common and widespread, and that prevention of this significant public health issue should be a priority.

One of the findings that really interested me was the lack of a statistical difference between male and female prevalence estimates, despite the persistence of conventional gender roles in some societies, such as the tendency for girls to spend more time at home than boys. Another point that drew my attention was the fact that poorer countries sometimes lack the funding for social welfare and law enforcement initiatives, which could help to explain why IPV rates are higher there. Additionally, childhood exposure to IPV receives less attention than other types of violence, making this study a suitable starting point for future research into this issue. With greater understanding, additional IPV reduction measures should be able to be developed.

Strengths and limitations:

The fact that this is the first systematic review that only considers income and lower-middle-income nations in order to gain a distinct viewpoint is a significant strength of the paper. The research report has high inter-rater reliability, , in addition to including a large number of eligible articles in the review (62 studies, 8 of which were assessed as having a moderate risk of bias and 54 as having a low risk of bias). Also, the research emphasises that children’s exposure to IPV is an important public health concern across countries.

One limitation is that the results varied between each country and because each country experiences different amounts of IPV, it is difficult to draw generalisations about the worldwide estimate of children's IPV exposure. A contributing factor to this is the lack of agreement on IPV definitions, which makes it more difficult to calculate the global prevalence rate for low-income and low-middle-income nations. Retrospective data may be prone to recall bias, which could result in a systematic underestimating, similar to other research on other forms of child maltreatment. Additionally, the review did not include any unpublished studies from governmental or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

What happens next?

According to the authors, policymakers should fund IPV interventions so that IPV prevalence declines, and so do its negative impacts on people's health. This might be accomplished, for example, by encouraging government officials to expand girls' access to education and women's economic empowerment, both of which have been found to be effective in reducing IPV.

I believe that increasing awareness of children's exposure to IPV will encourage more individuals to get involved. Creating shelters providing victim-centered services, such as trauma counselling, within the areas with high IPV levels is one method of ensuring safety. Additionally, governments must create programmes that help people learn how to have safe and healthy relationships. For instance, schools may introduce social-emotional learning programmes for youths.


As a conclusion, this research work is beneficial since it not only concentrates on low- and lower-middle-income nations but also draws attention to a problem that is less discussed than other forms of violence. Even though it will be difficult to generalise these findings to the wider population, this systematic review will help to raise awareness, which in turn encourages more people to get involved in influencing governments to implement change.