How can l feel safe at home? Adolescents' experiences of family violence in Ghana

Evelyn Aboagye ADDAE*, Lynn TANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the implementation of various national legal frameworks and global policies such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to combat violence against young people, family violence against young people is prevalent, especially in WHO African region. Although research on child maltreatment, specifically, for young children has received considerable attention in Ghana recently, there is little research on adolescents’ experiences of such family violence. In this paper, we report the experiences and perceptions of adolescents with respect to family violence they had suffered or witnessed, and analyze the socio-ecological factors and power dynamics at home that contribute to such violence. The study employs a qualitative approach and the data comprise focus group discussion with 56 adolescents from 14 schools in 7 districts of Ghana. The findings show that several adolescents in Ghana feel unsafe at home. They experience physical, psychological, and sexual violence as well as exposure to intimate partner violence, exploitation, and neglect. These violent acts were severe, with dire consequences such as permanent impairment and suicide. Perpetrators include all types of carers. The violent acts are often surreptitious and poly-victimization is common. The results also reveal that three main socio-ecological factors perpetuate and legitimize family violence: patriarchy, the normalization of corporal punishment as a method of child discipline, and superstitious beliefs about health. In general, carers demonstrate their superiority and control over the adolescents in an authoritarian manner, thereby making the adolescents powerless. Implications of the study for policy and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number672061
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge all the adolescents who participated in this study. We also acknowledge Prof K?HNER Stefan and Prof DAVID Roman of Lingnan University, Hong Kong, for their great supervision of the project. Lastly, we thank all the people who contributed to the project completion and the publication of this article, especially WUOLLAH-DIRE David (Research Assistant) and ABDULLAH Alhassan of University of Hong Kong. Funding. Lingnan University, Hong Kong, funded this study [RPG 1166681]. The funder did not participate in any of the designing, data collection, analysis, interpretation of data, and publication of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Addae and Tang.


  • Family violence
  • adolescents
  • child maltreatment
  • Intervention and prevention
  • qualitative research
  • Ghana
  • family violence
  • intervention and prevention


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