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Bringing the global to the local: Review of global trends in the prevalence and services for child maltreatment in order to inform research, policy and practice in England

Research shows that child maltreatment is prevalent and impacts on the health and well-being of children in every society. This report presents for the first time international trend and prevalence data according to the NSPCC indicators utilised in the “How safe are our children” annual reports in order to compare England against other countries.

The task of comparing data is difficult for several reasons. First, countries lack common and consistently applied definitions for types of child maltreatment. Also, measures in the number of children on child protection plans in official data are affected by inconsistencies in recording and measurement, both within and across countries. There are also difficulties in recording the rate of referrals to and investigations of child protection concerns, and each country may measure different entry points into child welfare services. Difficulties with self-reported surveys include that they are often conducted at only one point in time. As a result, each indicator may have a different comparator country due to the data collected and recorded – the comparison countries are clearly highlighted in each chapter. Additionally, England-specific data has been used wherever possible but in some instances, UK-wide data allowed for more direct or robust comparisons. Despite the challenges, this report points to the potential that cross-country comparisons, particularly with other high-income countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia and European countries can provide both in terms of understanding the bottlenecks and barriers in child protection systems but also how to improve our measurement and collection of data on prevalence and services in order to analyse cross-country trends in a meaningful way.