Bringing the global to the local: trends in child protection

Topics: Safeguarding and child protection

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

To protect more children from abuse we need to make sure our national child protection system is working effectively. We’ve been working with the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and the Local Government Association (LGA) to get an overall picture of the child protection system in England and find out what works best to improve children’s lives.

As part of this, we commissioned the University of Edinburgh to produce a report to help compare data about child protection in England and the UK to other countries.

We’ve used 16 indicators and made comparisons on a global level as far as we can.

Authors: Deborah Fry and Tabitha Casey
Published: 2017

Key findings

It’s difficult to compare data about child protection across countries: each country has its own child protection system and they each define and record child abuse and neglect in a slightly different way. But making comparisons, particularly with other high-income countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and other European countries, can help us think about:

  • potential barriers to protecting children from abuse
  • how to improve the way we measure and collect child protection data
  • how we respond to and prevent child maltreatment at a national level.

The key findings of this report include:

  • the number of child deaths in the UK, where another person was responsible or where responsibility was not determined, are among the lowest in Europe

  • there are wide variations in the rate of sexual offences against children that are being reported to police globally. The rate of reporting of sexual offences in the UK has increased over the last decade but underreporting is still an issue

  • when people are asked about their experiences of childhood abuse in household surveys, the percentage of people in the USA who said they experienced maltreatment by their parents or caregivers during their lifetime is significantly higher than in similar surveys in the UK. However the self-reported prevalence of children experiencing physical violence during their lifetime is similar in the USA and UK

  • children in the UK are less likely to report being upset by something they have seen online. They are less likely than children in Australia and the EU (taken as an average across countries) to report meeting someone in person that they met initially online

  • crime victimisation among adolescents is low in England and in many European countries

  • England has a higher rate of children referred to social welfare services than Australia.


Please cite as: Fry, D. and Casey, T. (2017) 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. London: NSPCC.