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Balkan Epidemiological Study on Child Abuse and Neglect

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Mapping child abuse and neglect

Researchers working on the BECAN project will map the abuse and neglect of children between the ages of 11 and 16. The targeted study group includes school-going youth and those who have dropped out of school.


Child abuse and neglect (CAN) is a much more widespread phenomenon than international data and statistics would indicate. Furthermore, different methodologies are used internationally to collect relevant data; difficulties in collecting data often skew the foundation on which European governments and international organisations base their policymaking decisions as well as their prevention and intervention planning. Associated problems are exacerbated, given lower standards of socioeconomic development in less industrialised countries. As such, the 'Balkan epidemiological study on child abuse and neglect' (BECAN) project aimed to document the number of reported/detected cases of CAN recorded in nine Balkan countries. The study shed light on the magnitude and characteristics of the phenomenon of CAN in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Greece, Romania, the Republic of Serbia, and Turkey. Institutions from all these countries participated in the project, as did the Istituto degli Innocenti (Italy) as evaluator, and the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) as scientific consultant. Supported by EU funding, BECAN followed two main threads of research, in the form of an epidemiological field survey and a case-based surveillance study. To achieve its primary mapping aims, BECAN created national networks of experts and child services to ensure that consortium partners could access information on CAN issues in each partner country. ISPCAN Child Abuse Screening Tools questionnaires were used to collect epidemiological data. These were translated and culturally validated for all partner countries before their administration. Researchers also carried out pilot studies to test the appropriateness of the translated and culturally validated instruments and the methodology planned for data collection. Data collected during the main epidemiological study were then processed, and data analysis was organised, in order to obtain final results and deliver conclusions. The BECAN project was also a response to the European Committee's preoccupation with the promotion of healthy behaviour in children and adolescents. The study therefore provided information on socioeconomic and cultural determinants of CAN. The results, beyond strengthening the evidence base for decision-making and policymaking, should also contribute to better prevention and intervention planning in less-developed countries.

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