Prevalence of child maltreatment in India and its association with gender, urbanisation and policy: a rapid review and meta-analysis protocol

Gwen Fernandes, Megan Fernandes, Nilakshi Vaidya, Philip De Souza, Evgeniya Plotnikova, Rosemary Geddes, Bharath Holla, Eesha Sharma, Vivek Benegal, Vikas Choudhry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

INTRODUCTION: India is home to 20% of the world's children and yet, little is known on the magnitude and trends of child maltreatment nationwide. The aims of this review are to provide a prevalence of child maltreatment in India with considerations for any effects of gender; urbanisation (eg, urban vs rural) and legislation (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012).

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A rapid review will be undertaken of all quantitative peer-reviewed studies on child maltreatment in India between 2005 and 2020. Four electronic databases will be systematically searched: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane and PsychInfo. The primary outcomes will include all aspects of child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect. Study participants will be between 0 and 18 years and will have reported maltreatment experiences using validated, reliable tools such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire as well as child self-reports and clinician reports. Study selection will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, and the methodological appraisal of the studies will be assessed by the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality assessment scale. A narrative synthesis will be conducted for all included studies. Also, if sufficient data are available, a meta-analysis will be conducted. Effect sizes will be determined from random-effects models stratified by gender, urbanisation and the pre-2012 and post-2012 POCSO Act cut-off. I2 statistics will be used to assess heterogeneity and identify their potential sources and τ2 statistics will indicate any between-study variance.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: As this is a rapid review, minimal ethical risks are expected. The protocol and level 1 self-audit checklist were submitted and approved by the Usher Research Ethics Group panel in the Usher Institute (School of Medicine and Veterinary Sciences) at the University of Edinburgh (Reference B126255). Findings from this review will be disseminated widely through peer-reviewed publications and in various media, for example, conferences, congresses or symposia.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e044983
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Humans
  • India/epidemiology
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Policy
  • Prevalence
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Urbanization


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