Research Brief: Boys in Malawi who experienced violence in childhood are more likely to use violence against intimate partners as young men
Intimate partner violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that can have short- and long-term physical and psychological effects on women and their children. Intimate partner violence can result in problems like low birth weight and preterm birth, depression, and increased risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Children who are exposed to violence in childhood, both as witnesses and as victims, could be at risk for perpetrating violence against others later in life. The authors used data from the 2013 Malawi Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) to identify young men ages 18 to 24 who experienced various forms of violence before age 18 as well as young men who witnessed partner violence in the home. These data were used to find out if there is a relationship between violence victimization and witnessing violence in childhood and later perpetration of violence against female intimate partners in young adulthood.
Key Points from the Report
- Among young men in Malawi, 24% perpetrated sexual violence against a partner, and 9% perpetrated physical violence against a partner.
- Men who experienced physical violence in childhood were more likely to perpetrate physical violence against a partner as young men.
- Men who experienced sexual violence in childhood were more likely to perpetrate sexual violence against a partner.
- The more types of violence experienced in childhood, the higher the risk of perpetration of sexual violence against a partner.
- Other forms of violence exposure in childhood (emotional, sexual, or witnessed) were not related to perpetration of physical violence against a partner.
What is added by this report?
Among young men in Malawi, exposure to violence in childhood is associated with increased risk for perpetrating violence against a female partner in young adulthood. Understanding how violent experiences are connected across generations and relationships is critical in identifying ways to direct public health action to prevent violence. These findings highlight the need for programs and policies aimed at interrupting the intergenerational transmission of violence. Prevention of violence against boys may be seen as an opportunity to protect not only the victims of child abuse, but also future victims of multiple forms of violence.
VanderEnde K, Mercy J, Shawa M, Kalanda M, Hamela J, Maksud N, Ross B, Gupta S, Wadonda-Kabondo N, Hillis S. (2016). Violence experiences in childhood are associated with men’s perpetration of intimate partner violence as a young adult: A multistage cluster survey in Malawi. Annals of Epidemiology, 26, 723-728.
*Footnote: some variation between prevalence estimates from published papers and country reports may exist. This variation reflects slight differences in the subsamples and variables used in the analyses.