Background: Data on the effects of age in studies of violence amongst adolescents and young adults in low- and middle-income countries are limited. These developmental periods are formative and represent unique risk for certain types of violence, including sexual and intimate partner violence. Risks for these types of violence may also differ by sex. Data on experiences of violence by age and sex from low- and middle-income countries can be valuable to inform prevention strategies.
Methods: The Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) are nationally representative surveys of youth ages 13-24. VACS data from Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania were used to examine experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV), physical violence (PV) by a parent or caregiver and an adult in the community, and sexual violence (SV). Analyses were conducted separately for each country in the sample. All data were weighted to reflect the larger population for each country and standard errors are adjusted for clustering and stratification in the sampling design. We estimated the prevalence of IPV, PV, and SV in the past 12 months for males and females, separately, across six two-year age bands (13-14 to 23-24). Logistic regression analyses examined the effects of age and sex, and assessed the differences in age effects for males and females. The violence by age variable was included as a continuous effect in a logistic regression, estimating violence exposure in the last year. Sex differences in age effects were assessed using adjusted Wald tests.
Results: The prevalence of parent PV and community adult PV decreased with age for both males and females in all 5 countries (parent PV ORs .56-.68; community adult PV ORs .48-.86). In Haiti, the decline with age was stronger for females than males (F=5.21; p<.05). IPV increased with age for males and females in all countries (ORs 1.21-1.65). IPV and SV were both significantly higher for females than males in all countries. SV increased with age for males in Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, and Tanzania (ORs 1.81-1.48) and for females in Haiti (OR 1.14), but not other countries. In Malawi, there was a steeper increase in IPV with age for males compared to females (F=4.21; p<.05). The increase with age for SV was steeper for males than females in Cambodia (F=8.45; p<.05) and Kenya (F=10.82; p<.05).
Conclusions: Findings highlight patterns in changing risk for violence with age by type of violence and sex. The results underscore the value of comprehensive, high-quality data on violence to best inform policies and programming for youth.