Background The European report on preventing child maltreatment reported a prevalence of 9.6% for child sexual abuse, 22.9% for physical abuse, 29.1% for mental abuse. It is estimated that 90% of abuse and neglect goes undetected. Investing in Children: the European Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Plan 2015–2020 has an aspirational target to reduce child maltreatment by 20%. Progress towards this can only be demonstrated if reliable indicators are used for monitoring. However, only 60% of countries reported that they had conducted population surveys of child maltreatment in European facts and the Global status report on violence prevention 2014. This paper describes the actions being undertaken by the World Health Organisation to improve surveillance of child maltreatment.
Methods A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted to identify instruments used in population surveys of child maltreatment. A total of 34 instruments were identified, and were further shortlisted on the basis of published data on validity and reliability, licensing and copyright restrictions and user fees. On this basis 4 instruments were selected for psychometric testing. These were the IPSCAN Child Abuse Screening Tools (I-CAST), Juvenile Victimisation Questionnaire (JVQ), Parent-Child Conflict Tactics (PCCT) questionnaire and the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) questionnaire.
Results Study data gathered in population surveys that have used the four instruments (I-CAST, JVQ, PCCT, ACE) have been requested from investigators. Psychometric testing is being applied to these datasets in order to propose one instrument for future studies and to develop a short form for inclusion in already planned surveys such as the Demographic and Health Surveys and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. These results and their implications will be discussed.
Conclusions A handbook is being developed to promote population surveys of child maltreatment in Member States. This will contain guidance on surveys, advice on instruments of choice for bespoke population surveys, and a short form instrument for proposed inclusion in already planned surveys. The handbook will be disseminated to health ministry focal points for violence prevention and other stakeholders. This tool is being developed as a means of assisting practitioners to conduct standardised population surveys of child maltreatment. The implications of this will be discussed in relation to European Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Plan.
- Child maltreatment
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