In late September 2023, the annual congress – organised by ISPCAN (the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) – took place in the heart of Scotland’s historic capital, Edinburgh. The event brought together professionals, academics and practitioners alike, all with a shared goal – to address child abuse and neglect. The diversity of disciplines and nationalities underlined the importance and the global scope of our shared mission. I had the privilege to attend the congress, learn from our colleagues, present our own recent findings, and advocate for children’s right to live in world free from abuse.
The presentations by Child Helpline International’s members were especially enlightening. For instance, Kiiya Kiiya, the Chief Executive of C-Sema, discussed the work being done in Tanzania, highlighting the strides our member has made in the region. Our own presentation, on the change in violence-related contacts received by child helplines before, during and post Covid-19, was well received (you can find the full report here). In fact, some of our findings were echoed in the trends observed by other professionals in the field. This inspires me to examine further ways in which child helpline data can complement and intersect with other data sources, to broaden our understanding of child abuse and neglect and to identify meaningful trends.
A recurring theme in the congress has been the need for aligned terminology. This was stressed by our colleagues from Childlight who mapped the discrepancies in terminology and advocated for the implementation of the Luxembourg Guidelines. A common vocabulary allows for clearer comparisons and understanding of child abuse and neglect, facilitating better solutions. Indeed, within our network we also observe this need and are always thinking of ways to better map terms and concepts to have a unified terminology.
In conclusion, the ISPCAN congress provided an important platform for learning and networking. The insights shared and connections forged will no doubt contribute to our ongoing efforts at Child Helpline International to amplify the voices of children and young people and help them thrive. See you next year in Uppsala, Sweden!
Anastasia Shuster, PhD
Data & Research Manager