Exploring the feasibility of a survey measuring child abuse in the UK

Closed 30 Apr 2021

Opened 21 Jan 2021

Feedback updated 23 Jul 2021

We asked

The ONS is assessing the feasibility of a survey measuring the current prevalence of child abuse in the UK. We published an article in January 2021 outlining our findings to date.

We are currently in phase one of the project, which aims to establish whether there is enough evidence to support carrying out a pilot survey (phase two).

As part of this, we consulted with users to understand:

  • the need for improved statistics to understand the prevalence and nature of child abuse in the UK
  • the impact of not having this data
  • whether the proposed survey includes the elements that users feel are important and would meet their needs
  • any other important considerations that should be explored in our research going forward

You said

We received 91 responses to the consultation. Nearly half (44%) worked with or represented children or young people and 11% were decision or policy makers in national or local government.

Overall, there was strong support to take this work forward. Responses demonstrated the importance of survey data for designing strategies to prevent and respond to child abuse, developing and providing relevant services, and raising awareness of abuse.

You told us it’s important that;

  • a survey includes all children, particularly, those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and who are home schooled
  • a survey covers the whole of the UK and includes young people aged 16 to 25 years
  • a survey provides appropriate support and takes proportionate safeguarding action
  • schools are prepared and able to effectively handle the possible impacts a survey could have
  • the limitations of a survey are clearly communicated alongside the data produced

We did

We will undertake qualitative research with:

  • children and young adults with experiences of abuse and parents of children with experiences of abuse, to hear their voices
  • headteachers, special educational needs coordinators and safeguarding leads in schools to understand how a survey could be carried out in schools and how children and young adults with SEND could be included
  • child protection leads working in local authority children’s social care services to understand how appropriate support and safeguarding could be ensured, and how home-schooled children could be included

We will also:

  • carry out further research to understand how all UK countries can be included and how robust data for each of these can be achieved
  • carry out further research to understand how young people aged 16 to 25 years can be included
  • continue to engage with key stakeholders to understand how a survey could be integrated into schools
  • continue to work with stakeholders, such as support organisations and the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC), to ensure any research is conducted in a sensitive and appropriate manner
  • publish a progress update this winter, providing the qualitative research is completed, which will summarise the findings from further work, our conclusion to phase one, and outline our next steps

Results updated 23 Jul 2021

The below document captures the full breadth of responses we received in relation to this consultation, as well as our suggested actions resulting from them.

Files:

Overview

Please note: The closing date for this consultation has been extended to 30/04/2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is looking for feedback to inform a feasibility study exploring whether a new survey to measure the current prevalence of child abuse in the UK could be successful.

Child abuse is an appalling crime and can have a lasting effect, with research suggesting that outcomes can be experienced in the short-term and the long-term following abuse.

As there is no single source reporting the current scale of child abuse in the UK, we do not know how many children are experiencing abuse today. It is vital that statistics are improved to help measure the current prevalence of child abuse.

In September 2015, the National Statistician’s Crime Statistics Advisory Committee recommended that Government should commission a new UK-wide prevalence study of all forms of abuse and neglect of children to establish a reliable time series of data.

The information gathered in such a survey could be used by policy makers, service providers and practitioners to hopefully, over time, help reduce the prevalence of child abuse and improve victims' experiences of services.

Why we are consulting

The ONS is currently in the process of assessing the feasibility of a survey measuring the prevalence of child abuse in the UK and have recently released an article outlining our findings to date.

We have identified some key areas that need further investigation before a conclusion can be made on whether a such survey could be successful and we can progress to the next phase (which would involve running a pilot survey).

In order to help us make this decision, it’s crucial we fully understand your needs for a survey, and invite views on our proposals. We would also welcome feedback on proposed plans for the next phase of our feasibility study.

We welcome feedback from anyone with an interest in child protection and child protection policy.

In particular, we would like feedback from:

  • decision or policy makers working in national or local government
  • anyone who works with or represents children, or has experience working with children or adults who have experienced abuse as a child
  • researchers with an interest or expertise in using data and statistics to research children and young people
  • analysts with survey expertise, particularly on surveys of sensitive topics with children

What we are asking

We will be asking questions based on:

  • the need for improved statistics to understand the prevalence and nature of child abuse in the UK
  • the impact of not having this data
  • whether the proposed survey includes the key elements that you feel are important and meet your need
  • whether there are any important considerations missing that should be explored in the research

All feedback is invited and appreciated; we value all perspectives.

How to respond

We encourage you to respond online wherever possible. However, responses by email will be also be accepted.

There is more information in the consultation document at the bottom of this page, which you may wish to read before completing your response. The document also includes a list of the consultation questions, should you wish to download and provide your comments by email.

If you are responding by email, please send your response to: ONS.Consultations@ons.gov.uk

Accessibility

All material relating to this consultation can be provided in braille, large print or audio formats on request. British Sign Language interpreters can also be requested for any supporting events.

Audiences

  • Analysts
  • Academics
  • Charities
  • Government
  • Health professionals
  • Local government
  • Police
  • Policy managers
  • Researchers
  • Statisticians
  • Think tanks

Interests

  • Crime
  • Health
  • Statistics
  • Data
  • Formal consultations
  • Surveys