The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) initiated its World Perspectives on Child Abuse: An International Resource Book in 1992 as part of the Ninth International Congress on Child Maltreatment, held in Chicago, Illinois. Since that time, seven editions of this publication have been produced and released at subsequent bi-annual Congresses sponsored by ISPCAN. This document is the Eighth Edition in the series and is being released in conjunction with the 17th International Congress being held in Hong Kong, China, September 2008. All of these efforts have sought to bring attention and understanding to the worldwide problem of child abuse and neglect and to highlight key differences and similarities across national policies.
A key component of this series has been a mail survey of key informants identified by the ISPCAN leadership as being knowledgeable about child maltreatment issues within their respective countries. In the first survey (1992), there were 80 respondents representing 30 countries. In the second edition (1996), responses were obtained from 53 respondents representing 37 countries. Beginning with the third edition (1998) emphasis was placed on obtaining one key respondent from as many countries as possible, resulting in 47 of the 94 countries invited to participate being included in the database. For the current edition, a total of 75 countries are represented out of a total pool of 161 countries.
Section I of the report includes a detailed summary of the survey data as well as general child well-being indicators drawn from UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2008. In order to further augment our understanding of the diversity in the child maltreatment response and to provide professionals greater access to emerging research and best practice internationally, two additional components are once again included in this report. Section II includes 16 commentaries on specific research projects or practice reforms underway in one or more of the sample counties. Authored by ISPCAN members and researchers, these commentaries provide rich descriptions of the various ways in which child maltreatment is defined and addressed worldwide. Section III includes a detailed annotated bibliography summarizing the content of key journal articles and government reports issued over the past two years. These descriptions report on research or practice reforms underway in 23 countries.
Our ability to develop this more comprehensive report is the direct result of the cooperation and financial support we received from a number of organizations and individuals. We would like to thank our fiscal partners in this effort including UNICEF, Health Surveillance and Epidemiology Division of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Interchurch Organization for Development Co-operation (ICCO). We also are very grateful for the in-kind support we received from our ISPCAN members, National Partners and professional colleagues for their willingness to complete their country-level surveys and to provide us with rich descriptive information on the scope of child maltreatment in their countries.