Child abuse and neglect in the UK today Research into the prevalence of child maltreatment in the United Kingdom

Girl stood by garageIn 2000 we published the first ever UK-wide study of child maltreatment (PDF). Ten years later we carried out a much larger study to give us a more up-to-date picture of what children were experiencing.

In 2009 we interviewed over 6,000 young adults, teenagers, children and parents of younger children. Our report looks at their experiences of abuse and neglect. It examines the impact of abuse and highlights that many children experiencing abuse by their parents or carers also experience other forms of abuse from other people.

Although these findings remain the most robust UK-wide research-based indication of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect available, they are increasingly dated. That's why, in our How safe are our children? 2017 report, we're calling on the UK Government to commission a new UK-wide study.

Authors: Lorraine Radford, Susana Corral, Christine Bradley, Helen Fisher, Claire Bassett, Nick Howat and Stephan Collishaw
Published: 2011

A substantial minority of children experience severe maltreatment and abuse at home, in school, in the community, from adults and from peers.

  • 1 in 5 children have experienced severe maltreatment
  • Children abused by parents or carers are almost 3 times more likely to also witness family violence
  • 1 in 3 children sexually abused by an adult didn’t tell anyone at the time
  • All types of abuse and neglect are associated with poorer mental health

Strong associations were found between maltreatment, sexual abuse, physical violence, and poorer emotional wellbeing, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Acknowledgements 4
Executive summary 6
Chapter 1: Introduction 16
Chapter 2: Research participants 29
Chapter 3: Child maltreatment in the family 39
Chapter 4: Maltreatment by adults not living in the family home 67
Chapter 5: Severe maltreatment in context 87
Chapter 6: Is child maltreatment increasing? 107
Chapter 7: Conclusions and implications 117
Appendix A: National Survey of Child Safety and Victimisation 124
Appendix B: Tables 138
Appendix C: Methodology 158
Appendix D: Selected Prevalence Studies 180
References 192

Please cite as: Radford, L. et al. (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. London: NSPCC.

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