International Child Maltreatment Data

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Strategic Research Initiative Area 3: International Child Maltreatment Data

As nations address the problem of abused and neglected children and adolescents, comprehensive data on this social and health problem are essential for planning, funding and intervening in effective ways. A global perspective on these data is ultimately needed to understand the scale of the problem that the intervention community is addressing, the gaps in those systems, their successes and challenges, and to identify trends in all these areas.

Improving Child Maltreatment Data Systems

The primary activity in this strategic initiative area is the cooperative agreement the Center has forged with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) to establish the ISPCAN Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data (ISPCAN-WGCMD or Working Group). The purpose of the Working Group is to develop areas of common interest for organizations and individuals who are doing sustained, long-term work on child maltreatment data collection programs directly sponsored by governmental entities. In addition to countries that have implemented child maltreatment data systems, countries that are involved in planning and developing such systems are invited to participate. The Center’s director serves as a co-chair of the Working Group.

In the past two years the Working Group has made significant contributions to the improvement of national child maltreatment data programs:

  • We have convened special meetings of the group’s membership in Hong Kong, Riyadh, London, and Perth.
  • As a representative of the Working Group, the Center’s director attended a special meeting convened by the World Health Organization in Geneva to address measuring violence to children.
  • Members of the Working Group have prepared sections of World Perspectives 2008, and are working on the 2010 edition.
  • We have published and contributed to a special issue of the journal Child Abuse and Neglect on the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • We are developing approaches to providing technical assistance to countries that are interested in developing or improving their data collection programs. Our first technical assistance effort will be with National Family Safety Program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

By building on existing relationships, providing personnel and financial support, and sustaining an active role in the Working Group, the Center will continue to collaborate with ISPCAN and international partners to develop and support data collection programs internationally. In the long run, this focus area will be a rich source of comparative information.

Additional International Work

The Center has also been able to leverage its international efforts, and as a result was invited to analyze the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster survey data. In addition, the Center participated with Chapin Hall to prepare a white paper to help UNICEF further develop a systems approach to child protection. Finally, the Center director was asked to participate as a member of the ethics advisory panel of the Balkan Ethnic Epidemiology Study of Child Abuse (BECAN), which is being conducted by the European Union.

Current Projects

Strategic Research Initiative Area 3: International Child Maltreatment Data

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National Family Safety Program — Program Report Data Project

The purpose of this project is to review and help expand the analytic capacity of the child maltreatment administrative data system under development by the National Family Safety Program (NFSP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The scope of work will be carried out by team members of the Child Protection Research Center, through a subcontract to the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). 

The proposed effort includes the following four goals:

  • Assess and evaluate the current NFSP data collection and develop recommendations that will help address improvements in data quality
  • Assist NFSP staff in developing articles for peer-reviewed journal articles
  • In cooperation with NFSP staff, develop recommendations and a long-term plan for data analysis using the NFSP data
  • Help coordinate activities associated with a concurrent project to collect ISPCAN Child Abuse Screening Instrument data

Review of Current Data System and Initial Recommendations

The first set of tasks involves a review of the current NFSP data collection program to assess its capacity and operations. Key concerns include whether the system captures all the information that would be important for the NFSP program, the data base structure, the capture and flow of data into the system, data edits and data cleaning procedures.

Data Analysis and Utilization

Data analysis is one of the key areas of development for the NFSP. The data can be used to assess and plan for the operation of the NFSP intervention program, monitor program performance and outcomes, identify trends in the population being served, disseminate data for social marketing, and support other analyses for policy planning and evaluation.

The UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Child Discipline Items and Related Analyses

This project is the first effort by any research group to conduct a comprehensive examination and analysis of data from the MICS child discipline module. It addresses three objectives:

Objective 1: Provide an assessment of the instruments used in the MICS3 to measure child discipline, with particular emphasis on the methodology used (questionnaire, indicators, etc.).

Objective 2: Provide a cross-country analysis of the main results of the MICS3 countries that included the child discipline module. This will include a descriptive analysis of the main findings at the national levels and by background characteristics (age, sex, place of residence, mother’s education, household wealth, etc.).  Exploratory analysis can also be included using multivariate techniques.

Objective 3: Provide recommendations on the measurement of child discipline via household surveys and on the analysis and interpretation of the MICS3 results.

The MICS3 survey discipline items provide one of the few resources available to the field of child protection to help develop a more complete understanding of the prevalence of child disciplinary practices in a cross-national context. The data, as yet underutilized, can be an important source of information for policymakers, health and social service delivery practitioners, researchers and the general public. Global advancement regarding discipline and its relationship to reducing child maltreatment, improving child development and well-being, and the need to address and improve education campaigns, laws, regulations and child services of all kinds can be better informed though the application of this data.

The aim of the report, which in now in draft form, is to describe findings related to the child parental discipline module of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) of households in 35 middle- and low-income countries.  Findings from the analyses indicate that violent physical and psychological discipline focused on children 2 to 14 was quite common across all the countries included in the MICS country-level samples. While overall rates of violent discipline are high (39 to 95 percent of children 2 to 14) they do not appear to be unusual compared to those found using similar methods in high-income countries.

This project is a joint project of the Child Protection Research Center, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and UNICEF. The project was completed in March, but follow-up activity related to the report and its dissemination is planned for June 2010.

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