THE ASSOCIATION OF VIOLENCE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN'S PHYSICAL HEALTH IN COLOMBIA
Pinzon-Rondon, Angela Maria
Hofferth, Sandra L
The association of violence with the physical health of children under five years of age in Colombia is studied through the lens of three major theories: biological stress theory, family stress theory, and ecological theory. The analysis explores the association of harsh parental discipline and intimate partner violence with child health, as well as the association of community violence with child health, parental discipline, intimate partner violence, and the relations among them. Secondary data from the Colombian Demographic and Health Survey 2005 and the Colombian National Census 2005 were analyzed. A total of 10,681 children under five years of age from 230 municipalities were included in the analyses. Analyses were conducted at the family and community levels. In the family level models, parental harsh discipline and intimate partner violence were associated with poor child health. Families who used harsh discipline had children with approximately 8% more symptoms of poor health than those who didn't use such punitive practices and families who experienced intimate partner violence had children with approximately 20% more symptoms than those who did not experience such violence. In the multilevel models, community violence and intimate partner violence predicted poor child health while parental harsh discipline failed to predict it. Children living in violent communities had 16% more symptoms of poor health than those living in nonviolent communities, and children from families that experienced intimate partner violence had on average 18% more symptoms of poor health than those living in families without intimate partner violence. Despite the study limitations, mainly its cross-sectional nature and restraints imposed by secondary data, the results indicate that violence is related to young Colombian children's poor physical health. These findings suggest the need to continue studying the effects of violence on health outcomes in different populations, as well as to provide support for efforts to promote violence prevention programs in Colombia.