Introduction: Child abuse is violation of the basic human right. It leaves behind a negative impact on the child’s physical and mental health. In developing countries like India where the focus is on control of communicable diseases, child abuse goes unnoticed and grossly under-reported.
Aim of the study: To estimate the prevalence of child abuse and its various forms, neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse among college-going young adults (18-24 years) in urban Chennai.
Materials and Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted among 485 young adults (18-24 years) in colleges of three zones of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, selected by multistage sampling method. Data was collected using a self-administered, semi-structured questionnaire based on ‘A study on child abuse in India 2007 by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India’. Descriptive statistics were analyzed using Statistical package for Social Sciences software version 21.
Results and Discussion: Of the 485 participants, 85.4% reported abuse when they were less than 18 years old. Neglect was experienced by 52.5% of participants, emotional abuse by 35.5%, physical abuse by 62.7% and sexual abuse by 36.3%. Though the findings of many studies done on abuse did not complement each other, the overall prevalence of abuse was found to be higher as in this study.
Conclusion: Multi-dimensional approach is needed to combat the problem of child abuse. Steps to improve prompt reporting of child abuse and further explorative research on its risk factors in various settings would provide opportunities for early intervention, thus preventing its long term impact on children.