Center for research and prevention of family and societal violence


Child Abuse and Neglect Surveillance Systems via Minimum Data Set Indicators

What the current situation is

Child abuse and neglect (CAN) case-based data across the EU are derived from a variety of intersectoral sources and collected via different methodologies; therefore, follow up of victims at local and national level is not sufficiently coordinated among the involved services. At international level, given that existing monitoring systems vary considerably, comparisons are not feasible.

What our aims are

This study aims at identifying scientific evidence-basis and necessary tools for establishing Europe-wide compatible national CAN monitoring systems using a minimum data set (MDS). Methodology employed includes: an extensive literature review for recording pre-existing CAN- surveillance mechanisms  throughout Europe; the type of indicators that such mechanisms regularly collect; research evidence from prior studies (such as the case-based surveillance study of the BECAN project); and expert’s consensus panel to identify the minimum set which would be at the same time informative and feasible in as many European countries as possible.

Insofar efforts for European unification of CAN-related information resources have focused mainly on judicial cases; this project targets at providing a common ground for CAN cases that are handled by services in health, welfare and educational sectors as evidence suggests that the vast majority of CAN cases will never enter the judicial system.

What we expect to achieve

Data that comprise the CAN-MDS will derive from specific variables on the basis of 4 axes: child, incident, family and services provided. Moreover, within the project’s outputs, the outline and fundamental aspects of a data collection Toolkit and of a Policy and Procedures Manual will be illustrated. These could be the main instruments with which existing surveillance national or regional mechanisms could harmonize their regular administrative operations in order to produce compatible outcomes with pan-European mechanisms as well as with new systems that could be designed and implemented in countries without such prior.

What could be the added value of such an effort?

CAN prevalence/incidence will be available for international comparisons and identification of good practices; harmonization of practices and policies will facilitate decision making on European and national/regional levels. CAN-MDS common national dataset systems will ensure a valid European case-based data collection and sharing on CAN related indicators. Availability of harmonized CAN data and potential sharing could enable vital information exchange between European states regarding victims and perpetrators of CAN; this could be of an ultimate European added value given the current level of international mobility of population. Last but not least, since CAN MDS contributes substantially towards improving child protection systems throughout Europe, this project is serving the constant pan- European values of protecting the Rights of the Child as defined in a series of EU (as well as the Council of Europe’s and UN’s) fundamental documents and recommendations.