Child maltreatment and neglect in the United Arab Emirates and relationship with low self-esteem and symptoms of depression

Syed M. Shah, Gul Nowshad, Fatima Al Dhaheri, Mariam H. Al-Shamsi, Alfan M. Al-Ketbi, Alaa Galadari, Priyam Joshi, Heba Bendak, Michal Grivna, Danilo Arnone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To our knowledge, this study is the first in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to investigate the prevalence of child maltreatment in relation to depressive symptoms and self-esteem. Study design: Exposure to physical maltreatment, emotional abuse and neglect was evaluated in 518 adolescents (86% response rate) randomly selected from schools in Al Ain in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Rosenberg self-esteem scale and the Beck Depression Inventory were used to measure self-esteem and depressive symptoms by using multivariate logistic regression analyses. Results: The mean age of study participants was 14.3 years. Emotional abuse was the most frequent form of maltreatment (33.9%), physical abuse (12.6%) and neglect (12.1%) followed. Male sex was a positive predictor of physical abuse (OR = 2.12; 95% CI 1.18–3.77), whilst higher maternal level of education was protective (OR = 0.40; 95% CI 0.19–0.86). Daily screen time (OR = 2.77; 95% CI 1.17–6.56) and tobacco smoking (OR = 1.86; 95% CI 1.09–3.18) positively predicted emotional abuse. Emotionally maltreated and neglected participants were less likely to report high level of self-esteem and more likely to report symptoms of depression. Conclusions: Child maltreatment in the UAE is of a similar magnitude to what reported in other countries around the world and significantly associated with low self-esteem and depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Al Ain
  • Maltreatment
  • UAE
  • adolescents
  • children
  • depression
  • self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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