Mapping the existing evidence about preventing child abuse in institutions

We are producing a map of the existing evidence about child abuse within organisations

New project! Giving Evidence is working to produce a map of the existing evidence (and gaps in it) about what is effective at reducing child maltreatment – particularly child sexual abuse – within organisations, such as youth clubs, sports clubs, churches etc. We’ll be working on it with the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, and Professor Aron Shlonsky of Monash University in Melbourne, who have undertaken considerable research around this topic.

Clearly, many nonprofits and other types of institution are working on improving safe-guarding and child safety, and the issue has gained prominence because of the allegations about aid workers in Haiti, etc. It therefore seems important to establish what is already known and what still isn’t known about what interventions are effective at improving child safety in various situations. That should enable (i) delivery organisations and funders to make evidence-based decisions, where there is sound evidence, and (ii)researchers to prioritise producing evidence in the important gaps which still exist. To be clear, our study is a review of the existing evidence: we will not be producing fresh primary research.

We are currently defining our on scope, and we will update here when we have done so. We will publish our protocol here.

Please get in touch if you’re interested, or are doing relevant work, or know of relevant studies which we should include. {admin @ giving-evidence dot com}

We are aiming to have the map ready during Spring 2019.

What evidence & gap maps are

Evidence Gap Maps (EGMs) consolidate what we know and do not know about ’what works’ in a given area– in this case, child abuse within institutions. They show where there are systematic reviews and impact evaluations, and provide a graphical display of areas where evidence on this topic is plentiful, sparse or non-existent.

EGMs show what research already exists within your scope (above a certain quality threshold); they do not show what that research says. They’re like real maps, which show where the pubs are but not what they serve 😉

For example, you may want to ensure that the institutions that you fund and partner with have done and are doing everything possible to prevent child abuse. You’re aware that many organisations put in place safe-guarding policies. But you are not sure whether safe-guarding policies actually have any effect on the levels of abuse. This EGM will not find that out, but it will find out whether anybody has yet looked at that question, and if they have, the geographies and types of institutions that they examined, and the types of research methods that they used (which matters since some research methods are more reliable than others). That may answer your question, or you may want to commission new research into it.

This makes EGMs useful for policymakers, funders and practitioners looking for evidence to inform policies and programmes. For donors and researchers, these maps can inform a strategic approach for commissioning and conducting research. EGMs are not intended to provide recommendations or guidelines for policy and practice but are meant to be sources that inform policy development and guidelines for practice.

This map will look only at studies of ‘what works’, i.e., the effect of some intervention(s) on some outcomes(s) for particular groups. Our map will therefore not include non-causal studies, such as studies of prevalence of abuse, attitudes, activities within organisations (eg., to reduce abuse or encourage disclosure).

Our EGM will revolve around a framework of the type given below. The rows cover all relevant interventions, whilst the columns include all the outcomes of interest. Each relevant study that we find is placed in the cell(s) to which it relates (e.g., if the study looked at the effect of Intervention 2 on Outcomes 3 and 4). This table is the generic structure of an evidence gap map:

Outcome 1 Outcome 2 Outcome 3 Outcome 4
Intervention 1
Intervention 2
Intervention 3

Why understanding impact involves knowing what would have happened otherwise—>

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