The prevalence and impact of maltreatment of child laborers in the context of four South Asian countries: A scoping review

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Child maltreatment is a global health concern, which adversely affects millions of children. Among them, child laborers are highly susceptible to maltreatment due to their economic vulnerability and workplace practices. Objectives: This review seeks to identify the extent, risk factors and psychological impairments associated with the maltreatment of child laborers in four South East Asian countries. Methods: A scoping review was adopted, in accordance with the PRISMA framework. Scopus, Medline, PsycINFO, ProQuest, Web of Sciences, and grey literature from relevant institutional websites were searched. Search date parameters were 1960–2020. A thematic synthesis and a proportion test were adopted to analyse data. Results: A total of 9 studies were retrieved. The physical maltreatment against child laborers (15.14 %) was found across all studies with high heterogeneity (from 2.3%–73.27%). The prevalence of emotional maltreatment was more than three times that of physical abuse. Sexual abuse rate was measured (16.82 %) followed by neglect against child laborers (12.9 %). Witness victimization, financial exploitation, forced work, and work intensification were also observed as notable forms of maltreatment. A thematic analysis suggests that the victims and caregivers’ characteristics and socio-cultural practices are strong predictors of maltreatment. Parental dysfunctions were also associated with rates of child labor victimization followed by poverty. The review found maltreated children were often traumatized and manifest specific phobias (38.79 %), social phobias (30.2 %), conduct disorders (20.6 %), and obsessions (18.21 %), which are significantly associated (p < 0.05) across studies. Conclusions: While the methodical study base is limited, the results of this review can inform further research on violence against child laborers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105052
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Child laborers
  • Childhood trauma
  • Maltreatment
  • Poverty
  • Scoping review
  • South Asia


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