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Measuring child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: A study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Child Abuse and Neglect
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)943
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Objective: To provide reliable measures of the prevalence of all forms of child maltreatment in the UK that will be robust in the context of social and cultural differences due to social class, ethnicity and, region. Methods: Two thousand eight hundred sixty-nine (2,869) young adults aged 18–24, obtained by random probability sampling throughout the UK, were interviewed face to face by trained interviewers. Maltreatment was defined using a post hoc assessment of a range of experienced behaviors and treatments while the respondents were aged 16 or under. Results: Over 90% of respondents reported that they came from a warm and loving family background. Maltreatment (both intra and extrafamilial) was experienced by 16% of the sample. Serious maltreatment was experienced by 7% of respondents for physical abuse, 6% for emotional abuse, 6% for absence of care, and 5% for absence of supervision, and 11% reported sexual abuse involving contact. Attitudes to maltreatment were explored through the examination of respondents’ views of different behaviors and experiences that children may have been exposed to. Conclusion: The maltreatment of children in the UK today remains an extensive social problem. Prevalence data reveal that children are most at risk in the home for physical and emotional abuse and neglect. They are at greater risk of sexual abuse outside the home, particularly in dating relationships.