Canadian Research in Brief

On the nature and scope of reported child maltreatment in high-income countries: opportunities for improving the evidence base

(2013), Paediatrics and International Child Health, 33(4): 207-215.

Jud, Andreas

Fluke, John

Alink, Lenneke R. A.

Allan, Kate

Fallon, Barbara

Kindler, Heinz

Lee, Bong Joo

Mansell, James

van Puyenbroek, Hubert

This review article examines the question of how high-income countries (Belgium, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States) are able to collect and use child welfare focused statistical data to inform policy and practice.

The authors concluded that all of the countries examined have either incomplete or inaccurate data, and therefore have no way to implement consistent evidence-informed child welfare practices. Several factors were found to underlie this conclusion, including differing orientations to child welfare (i.e., child protection in North America versus family services orientation in Continental Europe), as well as resources for effective data collection methods.

The study also found that children of non-white ethnicity are over-represented in child welfare services in all of the countries where those populations reside. Authors’ determined this finding was due to both poverty and bias. Fragmented services existed for differing reasons, including, jurisdictionally split responsibility between national and territorial (e.g., Canada), and sub-cultural differences (e.g., Switzerland and Belgium). Lastly, all of the high income countries examined have varying GDP percentage contributions to social welfare, ranging from 30% in Belgium (highest) to the three lowest, 19.4 % (United States), 18.2 % (Canada), and 9.3 % (South Korea).