New study shows child maltreatment is a public health problem in Republic of Moldova

WHO

A report on adverse childhood experiences and their associations with risk behaviours and health problems in students in the Republic of Moldova revealed that 59.6% of respondents experienced one or more adverse experiences (child abuse and neglect and or household dysfunction) during the first 18 years of life. The study provides evidence that child maltreatment and exposure to major household dysfunction is a public health problem in the country.

The research aimed to determine the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences and their influence on health behaviours and problems by collecting data from students of the country’s higher education institutions. The preliminary results show that:

  • 62.4% of boys and 57.8% of girls experienced one or more adverse events during the first 18 years of life; and
  • the most frequent types of adverse events were corporal punishment (20.2%), psychological/emotional abuse (15.1%) and psychological neglect of basic needs (13.0%).

The report was presented during a policy dialogue in Chisinau on 30 November 2017. The event gathered 60 representatives from health systems and the fields of social and child protection.

When opening the event, Minister of Health, Labour and Social Protection Stela Grigoras highlighted the efforts of the Government to reduce violence against children. “A number of complex measures to prevent abuse are implemented in the framework of the Child Protection Strategy for 2014–2020. The results of this unique study will help us better understand the scale of child abuse and other adverse experiences and their repercussions on young people’s health, and to better organize measures to prevent and respond to child abuse.”

The event engaged participants in a discussion of early interventions, such as positive parenting and home visitation by nurses, and violence-free schools. Actions to enhance family functionality and prevent child maltreatment were recommended. Participants proposed that an interministerial committee be established with a policy dialogue to prioritize and coordinate actions.

Parliament Ombudsman for the Protection of Child Rights Maia Banarescu also welcomed the study. She highlighted the country’s commitment to child rights and emphasized progress being made in deinstitutionalization and the fostering of children.

The study’s questionnaire was given to a sample group of 1678 students at 14 universities in the Republic of Moldova. Trained researchers from the National Resource Center on Youth Friendly Health Services Neovita collected the data in 2016.

The study used the methodology recommended by WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States of America. It assessed:

  • experiences of different forms of childhood abuse and neglect;
  • household dysfunction;
  • current involvement in different risky behaviours; and
  • current health problems.