Background and aims Every year, between 500 million to 1.5 billion children endure some form of violence. Although, the exact prevalence of child maltreatment in Sri Lanka is not known, reported literature shows that it is a significant problem. Studies conducted worldwide using professionals and parents regarding knowledge and attitude showed wide heterogeneity of results. The objective was to assess the knowledge and attitudes on child maltreatment and its prevention among intern medical officers working in Central Province, Sri Lanka.
Methods Descriptive cross sectional study conducted among all intern medical officers in Central Province using a self-administered questionnaire. Data analysed using SPSS version 23. Ethical clearance was obtained from the ethics review committee, Teaching Hospital Kandy Sri Lanka and approved by the Board of Study, Paediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, Colombo.
Results Of the 130 invited, 106 (85%) returned the questionnaire. There was a female predominance (N=67; 63%). Majority had graduated from local universities (N=100; 94.3%) and 104 (98.1%) had routine lectures on child maltreatment. Majority had not done paediatrics during internship(N=67; 63%) and 71 (67%) had been exposed to children who had faced maltreatment, during internship. Mean score of knowledge was 67.3%; (SD=10.1) and majority were between 50%–74% of marks (N=72; 67.5%). Among participants 85.8%; (n=91) and 94.3%; (n=100) were aware of the legal age for consent for sex and for marriage respectively. Majority (N=56; 55.7%) believed Government had given high priority regarding prevention. Majority had no idea regarding the measures taken by the Government and whether it was adequate or not to prevent child maltreatment (N=55; 51.9%). Majority 101 (95%) had a positive attitude towards participating in an awareness programme before internship.
Conclusion There are disparities regarding knowledge, attitudes and its application on child maltreatment prevention though, the knowledge score is satisfactory. Periodical awareness programmes on child maltreatment prevention are recommended to intern medical officers before internship in Sri Lanka.
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