About the study
The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) is carrying out research to help understand whether it would be possible to conduct a survey of children and young people to explore the scale and nature of child abuse across the UK. NatCen has been asked to do this research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), who are considering how they could best run a survey and capture accurate information on different forms of child abuse.
No single source currently reports the scale and nature of child abuse in the UK, and official statistics are limited in their coverage of the topic. A national prevalence survey would provide valuable information which could inform policy in this area, help to improve support provided to victims and reduce the prevalence of abuse.
We have been asked to carry out this research to help inform decisions being taken by the ONS and the government on whether and how to conduct a national survey on child abuse, given the challenges of collecting robust evidence on this sensitive area.
This research project involves us talking to and hearing the views of children and young people, parents and guardians, and school and local authority representatives. In speaking to these groups, we seek to understand whether it would be possible to carry out this kind of survey, and, if so, the key considerations that would need to be taken into account to do this effectively.
Why have I been contacted about this research?
It’s really important to us and the ONS that our research represents the views of a range of people who have experienced different forms of abuse as children, as well as parents, guardians and professionals.
Taking part is an opportunity to tell influential people what you really think.
You have been contacted about this research because we want to hear about how you think a future survey on child abuse could best be delivered.
- If you are a child, you have been invited to take part because we want to know how you and other children might find being asked questions on this topic in a survey. You will not be asked about any personal experiences in relation to abuse.
- If you are a young adult, you have been asked to participate to share your perspective on what it might be like for young people to be asked questions on the topic of abuse in a survey. You will not be asked about any personal experiences in relation to abuse.
- If you are somebody we have contacted about a child, we would like to invite them to take part to explore in an age-appropriate way how they might feel about being asked questions about experiences of child abuse.
- If you are a parent/guardian we have invited to take part, we would like to speak to you about how you would feel about your child participating in a survey on child abuse. In particular, we want to ensure that the research includes the views of parents whose children are victims and survivors of abuse so that the needs of children who may be asked to complete a national survey in future are fully considered.
- If you have been invited to participate in a professional capacity, we would like to hear your thoughts on options for administering the survey, including ethical and practical considerations relating to local procedures, resource requirements, and approaches to inclusion of particular groups of children, as well as any other key benefits, challenges and considerations.
You will not be asked specific questions about any experiences of abuse you or any children you know may have had. Instead, the discussion will focus on your general views about how a survey might work and what challenges and opportunities you think there could be in carrying out a representative survey on child abuse.
If you agreed for your name and contact details to be passed to NatCen, you may receive an email or telephone call from August 2021 onwards to see if you would like to take part in an interview or focus group.
If, after speaking with a NatCen researcher, you or your child decide to take part in the research, we will arrange with you a day and time for the interview or focus group to take place.
What will we talk to you about?
The researcher will ask you about a range of topics relating to your views on:
- how children might answer questions on sensitive or difficult subjects;
- the benefits and challenges of participating in a survey on child abuse;
- support that children might want or need before, during or after taking part;
- how best to carry out the survey, including location and other practical considerations.
Further details are provided in the participant information sheet. Everybody who is invited to participate will be provided with a copy.
We understand that this research touches on a topic that can be difficult to talk about. You won’t be asked to share any personal experiences of abuse that you or somebody you know may have had, and you won’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to. It will also be possible to take breaks and stop at any point.
We will ask your permission to audio record the discussion so that nothing is forgotten. If you don’t want to be audio recorded, we can make written notes instead. Recordings and/or written notes will be stored securely at NatCen; only the research team will have access to them. Further details of how data will be used, stored and deleted are provided below.
No need to prepare
There’s no need to prepare for the interview or focus group. You don’t need any special knowledge – we just want to hear about your experiences and views.
What will happen to the information I give?
We will write a report about the main issues that people have talked about. We will not name anybody in the report and it will not be possible to identify anybody or any organisation that took part in the interviews.
If you take part in a focus group, you and all other participants will be asked to keep what was discussed confidential.
The research team will treat everything discussed in the interviews as confidential and anonymous. This means you will not be identified to anyone outside the research team or (if applicable) the focus group, and we will not tell anyone what you say, except in the few specific circumstances described below.
We might have to tell someone what has been said in an interview or group if we believe there is a risk of harm or danger to a child or adult. In this case, we would have to discuss this information with somebody else. Exactly who this will be shared with will depend on what we have been told, but might involve a number of agencies including the police. If this happens, information about the people involved and what has been told to us will need to be shared even if participant(s) withdraw from the study.
All the research data will be stored securely on NatCen’s systems, which are encrypted and password protected. All documents which include identifiable information (such as names and contact details, for example) will be deleted three months after the project ends.
Do I have to take part?
No, you do not have to take part. Everyone invited to participate will be able to decide not to take part, and you can also change your mind without giving a reason. Everyone who takes part in an interview or focus group can choose to skip questions or stop at any time. If you take part in a paired interview or focus group, you will be free to withdraw participation up until the point at which the discussion begins. If you take part in an individual interview, it will also be possible to withdraw your contribution at any point after the interview until the data is analysed, as set out in information sheets given to participants.
Please note that once our findings have been shared outside the research team, we would not be able to change the results by removing individual information. You can request that your personal data held by us be deleted or updated and we will let you know immediately if this is possible or not.
Why take part?
The ONS is keen to understand whether carrying out a UK-wide prevalence study on child abuse would work and, if so, how to ensure that a survey is carried out sensitively. If delivered, a survey would provide valuable information on the scale and nature of child abuse which could inform policy, help to improve support provided to victims and survivors, and reduce the prevalence of abuse. We hope you will agree that this is an important study and that you will consider taking part.
In our privacy notice, we explain the legal basis for data processing, who will have access to your personal data, how your data will be used, stored and deleted, and who you can contact with a query or a complaint.
Our pledge to you
We respect your wishes
Taking part is voluntary and you do not have to answer any questions you don’t want to. Just let the researcher know and they will move on to the next question.
We answer your questions
The research team will be happy to answer any questions you have about the study which aren’t covered here.
We ensure your safety
All our researchers carry photographic ID cards and have been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We welcome any feedback you have about your experience with our interviewers.
We guard your privacy
We will treat the information you give us in the strictest confidence under the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (which governs data protection and privacy). The results collected are used for research purposes only. You will never receive any junk mail as a result of speaking to us. We never pass on your details to other organisations for commercial purposes.