Desistance from physical abuse in a national study of Nepal: Protective informal social control and self-compassion

Clifton Emery, Alhassan Abdullah*, Srijana Thapa, Ko Ling Chan, Cheryl H.K. Chui, Angel Hor-Yan Lai, Bobo Hi-Po Lau, Christine Wekerle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Background: Research on the conditions under which perpetrators desist from child maltreatment has seen greater attention as part of the efforts to break the cycle of maltreatment. New theoretical insights suggest that informal actions (herein protective informal social control of child maltreatment) by network members which communicate warmth, empathy with victim distress, and promote the modeling of positive parenting practices are more likely to increase maltreatment desistance. Likewise, parents' desistance from maltreatment is theorized to impact on adolescents' (victim) cognition and self-compassion.

Objective: This study examined the relationship among protective informal social control of child maltreatment (protective ISC_CM) by social networks, physical abuse desistance, and adolescent self-compassion. Participants and setting: A nationally representative sample of 1100 mothers and their adolescent children (aged 11–15) in Nepal was obtained. 

Methods: Questionnaires were administered to mothers and their adolescent children independently. Hypotheses were tested using regression models with standard errors corrected for clustering within wards. 

Results: More than 1 in 7 mothers reported perpetrating physical abuse in the past year, and 1 in every 5 adolescents reported being victims of physical abuse. Odds of abuse desistance increase by roughly 10 % for each act of protective ISC_CM reported by the mother. Also, odds of abuse desistance associated with higher adolescent self-compassion, and acts of protective ISC_CM associated with higher levels of adolescent self-compassion. 

Conclusion: The findings suggest that interventions to boost desistance from maltreatment and break the cycle of abuse in Nepal, should focus on promoting protective informal social control actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106588
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Physical abuse
  • Desistance
  • Recidivism
  • Recurrence
  • Adolescent self-compassion
  • Protective informal social control
  • Nepal


Dive into the research topics of 'Desistance from physical abuse in a national study of Nepal: Protective informal social control and self-compassion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this