Children growing up in societies that experience high level of gender inequality are more likely to be maltreated, finds a study that identified a link between child abuse, neglect and gender inequality.

The research found that the rate of physical abuse of children varied between 1 and 43 per cent, while child neglect rates stood between 0.8 and 49 per cent.

Rates of discrimination against women substantially influence the levels of child physical abuse and child neglect, said Joanne Klevens from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Family Violence, the team analysed data from 57 countries on incidences of severe physical discipline of children in the form of hitting, slapping or repeated beatings or child neglect.

Approximately 44 per cent of the countries had a high or very high level of human development, but one-third was considered to have low human development.

The data was based on surveys conducted by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and Demographic and Health Surveys conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2011 to 2015.

Using the Social and Institutional Gender Index (SIGI) and the Gender Gap Index (GGI), the researchers assessed the impact of gender inequality and the rate of child abuse or neglect in each country.

Based on the findings, efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect might benefit from reducing gender inequity, the researchers noted.