New research has recently been published in the medical journal, The Lancet, showing that there is NO evidence of a significant decrease in three indicators of child maltreatment in England.
Of six developed countries studied, decreases in the indicators were found only in Sweden and Manitoba (Canada).
The researchers are at pains to stress that just because there has been no significant decrease in the indicators does not necessarily mean that policies have been ineffective. The results could also be explained by a decrease in actual levels of maltreatment resulting from improvements in services, coupled with an increase in reporting as a result of increased awareness. But we simply do not know.
While these figures may not be a reason to despair, they are clearly no justification for complacency. There now needs to be much more research in countries like England to understand why, despite the high levels of public concern and a history of government initiatives, there seems to be no evidence of a reduction in the levels of child maltreatment.