Aref Alsehaimi, Abdullah Alanazi<
Until recently, the subject of child abuse in Saudi Arabia received very little attention. It was only in the 1990s that cases of child abuse and neglect began to be reported by the Saudi medical profession. A comprehensive, systematic review of the published literature available since that time is presented here. The paucity of research conducted to date is reflected in the fact that only nine articles were found that satisfied the selection criteria, plus four others identified through a search of grey literature. An appraisal tool was used to assess the quality of these studies. The relevant work that has been published indicates that child abuse, of various types, exists within Saudi Arabia but the research does not provide sufficient statistical evidence to be able to determine the extent of the problem. However, there are indications in the published literature of some of the factors that may contribute to child abuse in the Kingdom. These include cultural and societal attitudes, and income and educational levels of parents. Another contributing influence on child abuse in Saudi Arabia appears to be the lack of legislation or legal clarity to protect the rights of minors. Although the review found that there are some government and private initiatives aimed at addressing the issue, these remain inadequate because no formal unifying organization yet exists. A summary of the findings and their implications is followed by a discussion of where further research is needed to fill the gaps in present knowledge of the child abuse problem in Saudi Arabia. Recommendations for future work are made in the hope that this will lead to increased awareness of this important and long-neglected issue among professionals and public alike.