Maltreatment of children, elderly people and the poor is an important cause of injuries and disease. The most common culprits include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. Approximately 25% to 50% of all children report being physically abused, and 20% of women and up to 10% of men report being sexually abused.
Poorer people are at the highest risk of injury because they often live, work, travel and go to school in unsafe environments. Consequently, as adults, maltreated poor children are at the highest risk for behavioural and physical health problems such as violence, alcohol and drug use, high-risk sexual behaviour and unintended pregnancy. Statistics also indicate higher rates of depression, obesity and tobacco use.
Approximately 4% to 6% of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. Physical injuries can range from minor scratches and bruises to broken bones and head injuries.
Elder maltreatment is predicted to increase as many countries in the Region are experiencing ageing populations. Ageing populations also experience higher rates of falls. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths worldwide. Other common types of injuries include accidental poisonings, burns, drownings and road traffic accidents.