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Child protection research in Northern Ireland

A brief list of published research into child protection, child abuse and child neglect in Northern Ireland.


Translating learning into action: an overview of learning arising from case management reviews in Northern Ireland 2003-2008 (PDF).
John Devaney, Lisa Bunting, David Hayes and Anne Lazenbatt
Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), 2013
Reviews lessons learnt from Case Management Reviews in Northern Ireland between 2003 and 2008. Analyses 24 reviews into the death or serious injury of 45 children. Draws out key recommendations, including: services becoming involved with families at an earlier stage; services staying involved with families for longer to consolidate improvements; access to therapeutic services for children to address the psychological harm of poor parenting.

Families experiencing multiple adversities: a review of the international literature (PDF, 2MB) .
Gavin Davidson, Lisa Bunting and Mary Ann Webb
NSPCC, 2012
Literature review into families with multiple adversities, exploring: the definition and prevalence of multiple adversities; theoretical explanations of why and how adversities impact on children and young people's outcomes; the policy context; and how the current system and services respond to the needs of families with multiple adversities. Key findings include: an estimated 2-percent of families with children in Britain experience five or more disadvantages, including: poverty, child abuse concerns, domestic violence, parental substance abuse and parental mental health problems.

Key stakeholder evaluation of NSPCC Youth Witness Service Remote Live Link.
Helen McNamee, Frances Molyneaux and Teresa Geraghty
NSPCC, 2012
Outlines the findings from an evaluation of the NSPCC’s Young Witness Service (YWS) remote live link. Piloted since January 2008, the YWS enables young witnesses to give evidence at Londonderry (Bishop Street) Courthouse from the NSPCC’s building in Foyle, via a TV live link.

Sexual and physical violence against children in Northern Ireland: a statistical overview of recorded crime 2008–10 (PDF, 393KB) .
Lisa Bunting
NSPCC, 2011
Presents data on the patterns of violent crime committed against children in Northern Ireland as reported to and recorded by the police. Focuses on sexual offences and physically violent offences recorded between April 2008 and March 2010. Explores victim and offence characteristics; detection and offender characteristics; the relationship between detection and case characteristics; and delays in reporting sexual offences to the Police. Also discusses key themes identified: violence against teenagers, young children as victims, early reporting, case progression, gaps in data and limitations.

Keeping safe: the development of effective preventative education in primary schools in Northern Ireland.
NSPCC, 2011
A series of reports from research, commissioned by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland, which assessed the views, knowledge and understanding of 'keeping safe' messages in primary schools; examined current practice on teaching these messages and identified the key barriers and facilitators in relation to effective programme development and implementation.

'Not a world away': the sexual exploitation of children and young people in Northern Ireland (PDF).
Helen Beckett, Barnardo's, 2011
Reports on the findings of research into the sexual exploitation of children and young people in Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on the risks present for children in or missing from care. Aims of the research included: to source and collate information on the 'known' extent and nature of the issue; to identify the risks for children in or missing from care; and to explore stakeholder views on how statutory services can better respond to incidences of known or suspected sexual exploitation. Presents quantitative and qualitative findings of the study. Also includes a brief review of the existing body of sexual exploitation literature within the UK and an overview of the legislative and policy context.

Child victims in contact with the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland (PDF, 357KB) .
Lisa Bunting
NSPCC, 2011
Examines the role of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland and its contact with child victims. Draws upon evidence from relevant UK and Northern Ireland research and policy documentation, official statistics and the NSPCC's service base. Discusses investigation and prosecution processes; violent offences against children recorded by the Police; support for young witnesses; and therapeutic support for young victims. Concludes that while there have been improvements, much still needs to be done to support young victims. Outlines key NSPCC recommendations including: advocates/supporters similar to ISVAs in England should be introduced for all child victims and their families; and further investigation into victim withdrawal and denials/retractions is needed to better understand how 'avoidable attrition' might be minimised and victims better supported.

The experiences of young witnesses in criminal proceedings in Northern Ireland: a report for the Department of Justice (NI) (PDF).
David Hayes, Lisa Bunting, Anne Lazenbatt, Nicola Carr and Joe Duffy
Department of Justice (NI), 2011
Researches young people in Northern Ireland's experiences of being witnesses in criminal proceedings. Looks at existing literature and policy context before focusing on evidence collected from interviews, questionnaires and referral reforms collected from young prosecution witnesses, and their carers, receiving a service from the NSPCC's Young Witness Service. Includes results of a survey with Young Witness Service volunteers and practitioners. Areas looked at include: time spent waiting for trial, special measures used in court and answering questions. Identifies ways to improve the service.

Sexual abuse and therapeutic services for children and young people in Northern Ireland: the gap between provision and need (PDF, 508KB)
Lisa Bunting, Paulene Anderson and Debra Allnock
NSPCC, 2010
Full report of research into the availability and accessibility of therapeutic services for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse in Northern Ireland. Findings showed: specialist provision is low; a gap between estimated need and service availability; specialist services are often offered too late; few services available for young people who have been raped; a lack of information on what services and interventions are effective.

An evaluation of the case management review process in Northern Ireland.
Anne Lazenbatt, John Devaney and Lisa Bunting
Queen's Belfast University and NSPCC, 2009
Evaluation of the case management review (CMR) process in Northern Ireland (known as serious case reviews in England and Wales). Used a Delphi technique to collate the views of people involved in CMR. Identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the CMR process and presents recommendations for improvement. A literature review looks at incident systems and processes used nationally and internationally and their advantages and disadvantages. Summarises theoretical models and how they may be applied to CMR.

The 'smacking debate' in Northern Ireland: messages from research: full report.
Lisa Bunting, Mary Anne Webb and Julie Healy
NSPCC, 2008
Reports the findings of an evidence based review of the smacking debate in Northern Ireland. Includes a review of the international literature relating to physical discipline looking at the prevalence of different types of physical discipline, factors which influence physical discipline use, the impact on children, the views of parents, professionals and children to physical discipline. Reports on a survey of 1,000 Northern Ireland parents of 0-10 year olds about their use of physical discipline.

An examination of local, national and international arrangements for the mandatory reporting of child abuse: the implications for Northern Ireland.
Isla Wallace and Lisa Bunting
NSPCC, 2007
Intends to increase understanding of the impact of mandatory reporting through a review of the international evidence and experiences of mandated reporting legislation. Considers whether or not mandatory reporting legislation better protects children and young people from abuse. Includes an overview of international reporting systems, an analysis of the evidence relating to the impact of mandatory reporting laws, and an exploration of the factors that are associated with reporting behaviours and attitudes. Describes the reporting systems currently in operation within the UK and examines the Northern Ireland reporting system in relation to the findings from the international evidence.

Child protection is no accident: views on current practice in Northern Ireland from senior medical and nursing staff in A&E (PDF, 404KB)
NSPCC. Northern Ireland, [2003]
Contains findings from a small postal survey of senior nurses and doctors in A&E departments in Northern Ireland in which respondents were asked about how their departments deal with cases of suspected child abuse. Includes recommendations for ACPC procedures, the Child Protection Register, induction and child protection training programmes for medical practitioners, and professional liaison arrangements.


Further reading

Search the NSPCC Library Online for resources on child protection in Northern Ireland.


Further help and information

NSPCC training and consultancy
Our child protection training courses in Northern Ireland.


Contact the NSPCC’s information service for more information about child protection in Northern Ireland or any child protection topic