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Join the Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collection

To join the Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collection (WGCMDC), please contact the group moderator, Scottye Cash, at


Formation of the Working Group

Since the 1996 XIth International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect held in Dublin, at each international Congress a small but growing group of Society members has organized a collective session on national child maltreatment data collection efforts. The first group of presenters included representatives from Australia, Canada, England, and US.


The primary objective of these sessions has been to identify and share the key methodological approaches and findings and to explore areas of difference and comparability. The secondary objective has been to develop a network of professional researchers who are involved in developing systematic national data collection programs. A further objective is to analyze data trends at national and international levels to inform policy development. The sessions have generally included three to four countries at each meeting, and efforts have been made to recruit presenters and presentations from a range of countries.

Since the outset of the process participants involved in these presentations have believed that the development of something like the working group would be beneficial. A key missing ingredient has been the inclusion of countries representing a broader diversity of cultures, approaches to service delivery, languages, methodologies, and comparative data.

Achieving diversity of representation is complicated by the difficulties of identifying key governmental representatives who are involved in national data collection. In some cases the data collection program may be marginal to the typical child protection or law enforcement agency; it may be housed in another agency with a broader mandate for national data collection of various kinds. Further, in countries where such programs don't exist at present, the data collection program may be in a planning stage or its pace of development may be very slow. Finally, all of this is complicated by the relatively high turnover of governmental staff who may not occupy positions involving child maltreatment data collection for very long.

Another complication is that even though it may be possible to identify individuals or organizations involved in data collection, it is sometimes difficult to bridge the cultural, linguistic and financial barriers posed. Further, it is sometimes difficult to for potential participants to be confident that they are in contact with a credible group of professional with shared goals.

Lastly, in many developing countries the social and legal infrastructure necessary to support children and families involved in child maltreatment are not present or are just emerging. The additional requirements to develop a data collection infrastructure may pose a range of challenges in terms of awareness of its value, knowledge of what's required, and resources.

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