Consideration of gender aspects

When speaking about CAN, gender is a crosscutting theme. The study of gender aspects in the context of CAN is a new endeavour in the Balkans. At this stage, for example, there are no comparable data concerning the way gender relates to prevalence and various forms of CAN, the aggressor and the child-victim. As for sexual abuse, one can speak about a relative invisibility of boys’ sexual abuse, along with the widely accepted higher incidence of sexual abuse in girls.

Therefore, the present study intends to shed light to the relation between CAN and gender in the Balkan countries. It is well known, for example, that gender roles and assumptions tend to vary according to culture and socio-economic characteristics of the family. We also know that children who suffer from abuse and neglect are not a homogenous population. Thus, cultural, demographic and socio-economic variability of Balkan countries will provide a unique opportunity, not only to investigate gender differences in the context of CAN, but also to examine specific patterns of abuse and neglect in boys and girls coming from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Data from this epidemiological study are believed to enable a better epidemiological, psychological, sociological/criminological, and anthropological understanding of gender differences in the context of CAN, and to contribute to the formulation of adequate policy changes informed by research.

The cross-sectional design of the study will, further, allow an investigation of the developmental course of CAN for boys and girls. Questions such as whether boys and girls have the same probability of suffering abuse and neglect in different ages, whether girls and boys tend to suffer from different types of abuse and neglect, and whether suffering from abuse and neglect is related to different types of subsequent unhealthy behaviors in boys and girls will be answered. Responses to such questions will contribute to the evaluation of existing interventions for CAN, as well as to the construction of new culturally competent prevention and intervention programs able to promote more healthy behaviors to girls and boys during childhood and adolescence.