Abstract: Child Abuse and Neglect and Child Protection in the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: A Scoping Review (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Child Abuse and Neglect and Child Protection in the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: A Scoping Review

Friday, January 14, 2022
Monument, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Sarah Elizabeth Neville, MA, PhD Candidate, Boston College, MA
Karen Rotabi, Professor, California State University, Monterey
Tarek Zidan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University South Bend, Granger, IN
Adam Williams, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Boston College
Background and Purpose: While there has been recognition of the existence of child abuse and neglect in the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council countries---Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates---for at least a decade or more, research in child maltreatment as well as studies more broadly focused on child protection are limited. However, systems of care are developing rapidly, catalyzed by greater awareness as well as relatively recently developed child protection laws (and other related legal code) in some countries. The aim of this scoping review is to identify the themes in the current body of research on child abuse and neglect and child protection literature, to address the gaps in the literature in order to identify opportunities to build greater capacity in this research area from a social services perspective.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) protocol, searching nine databases including Embase, PsychINFO, Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies. Articles were included if they were empirical, original studies published in peer-reviewed journals in English or Arabic. Duplicates were removed, titles and abstracts were screened for relevance, and the resulting full text articles were further screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria. A non-systematic search was conducted in Arabic and other articles were identified via citation searching.

Results: After removing duplicates, our database search returned 6,109 articles. 5,867 articles were screened out in the abstract review and 105 were excluded after full text review. Ultimately, after adding articles found via other methods, a resulting 165 articles were included in our review.

Articles were categorized into five broad categories: (1) maltreatment prevalence and incidence, (2) correlates of maltreatment, (3) accidental injury and death potentially associated with neglect, (4) maltreatment awareness and reporting, and (5) child protection policy.

Studies addressed emotional abuse, harsh punishment, child sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, physical abuse, negligence-related death and injury, and medical neglect. About half of identified studies were of Saudi Arabia.

Conclusions and Implications: Saudi Arabia is a clear leader in child protection research in the region, likely due to its strong surveillance system. In the Arab Gulf, most child protection and maltreatment research is conducted by the medical community, and further engagement of the social work sector is critical. Child maltreatment prevention interventions are also understudied in the region. Finally, very few studies explicitly research neglect, despite the fact that negligence-related injuries and death are a known problem and there is a large volume of research on non-use of seatbelts with children, as well as accidental falls, poisonings, and burns.