Sex and age effects in past-year experiences of violence amongst adolescents in five countries
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Sex and age effects in past-year experiences of violence amongst adolescents in five countries

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    PLoS One
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    To date, there has been insufficient focus on age and sex differences in studies of violence amongst adolescents and young adults in low- and middle-income countries. As adolescence is a formative period during which experiencing violence can have both short- and long-term consequences, we aim to investigate experiences of violence by age and sex across five countries.


    Incidences of past-year violence victimization were estimated by sex across two-year age bands (13–24 years) using Violence Against Children Survey datasets from Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania. Analyses were conducted separately for each country. The presence of an association with age and each type of violence was identified using logistic regressions separately by sex. Sex was then added to the models as an interaction term and adjusted Wald tests were used to assess differences between males and females in age effects.


    Risk of physical violence by both an adult caregiver and a community member decreased with age for both sexes in all countries. In contrast, risk of IPV increased with age for both sexes in all countries. Although some countries displayed a steeper increase in risk of IPV and sexual violence with age for males, females face higher overall levels of risk for these forms of violence.


    Findings highlight how adolescents’ and young adults’ risk of violence changes with age and type of violence. The analysis underscores the importance of collecting violence data disaggregated by age and sex to best inform policies and programming.

    Implications and contributions

    We analyzed five Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) and found age effects for physical, sexual, and intimate partner violence for adolescents 13–24 years old. Age effects for sexual violence are stronger among females than males. Future policies targeting adolescents should consider how age and gender influence risk of violence.

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