Introduction: Violence and injuries are under-reported in developing countries, especially during natural disasters such as floods. Compounding this, affected areas are isolated from the rest of the country. During 2007 Bangladesh experienced two consecutive floods which affected almost one-third of the country. The objective of this study was to examine unintentional injuries to children in rural Bangladesh and parental violence against them during floods, and also to explore the association of socioeconomic characteristics.
Methods: A cross-sectional rural household survey was conducted in the worst flood-affected areas. A group of 638 randomly selected married women of reproductive age with at least one child at home were interviewed face-to-face using pre-tested structured questionnaires. The chi2 test and logistic regression were used for data analysis.
Results: The majority of families (90%) were affected by the flood and were struggling to find food and shelter, resulting in the parents becoming violent towards their children and other family members in the home. Cuts (38%), falls (22%) and near drowning (21%) comprised the majority of unintentional injuries affecting children during the floods. A large number of children were abused by their parents during the floods (70% by mothers and 40% by fathers). The incidence of child injuries and parental violence against children was higher among families living in poor socio-economic conditions, whose parents were of low occupational status and had micro-credit loans during the floods.
Conclusions: Floods can have significant effects on childhood injury and parental violence against children. The improvement of socio-economic conditions would assist in preventing child injuries and parental violence.