Associations between mental distress, poly-victimisation, and gender attitudes among adolescent girls in Cambodia and Haiti: an analysis of Violence Against Children surveys
This study aims to explore the effects of poly-victimisation (defined as the experience of multiple different forms of violence, including physical, emotional, and/or sexual) and gender attitudes on mental distress and suicidal ideation among adolescent girls, using cross-sectional nationally representative household survey data from Cambodia and Haiti. Data used were from 555 and 675 adolescent girls aged 13 to 19 from the 2013 Cambodia and 2012 Haiti Violence Against Children Surveys, respectively. Weighted bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess the relationship between poly-victimisation and gender attitudes with severe mental distress and suicidal ideation, controlling for a range of factors. The results suggest that poly-victimisation is associated with severe mental distress and suicidal ideation among adolescent girls in both countries. Gender attitudes can serve as either a risk or protective factor. For example, in Haiti, respondents who agreed that women should tolerate violence to keep their family together were more likely to experience mental distress, but less likely to have had suicidal thoughts. The study’s findings illustrate the need for further research on how gender norms and attitudes as well as experiences of multiple different forms of violence impact adolescent mental health.