The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health ‘stay at home’ restrictions have intensified familial risk factors. Children would appear to be at increased risk of harm and abuse, yet administrative data from the early months of the pandemic showed falling cases of child maltreatment. Using weekly administrative data from Scotland, UK that span the first 17 months of the pandemic, this article found that child maltreatment activity levels fluctuated as ‘stay at home’ restrictions changed. During lockdown periods, the number of children subject to Inter-agency Referral Discussion fell but a higher number of children were placed on the Child Protection Register. When restrictions were eased, the number of Inter-agency Referral Discussions increased but the number of children placed on the Child Protection Register fell. To explain the fluctuations, the article asserts that the pandemic’s impact on services’ ability to engage directly with children and families has been critical, but the limitations of administrative data in providing an accurate measure of child maltreatment levels also need to be recognised. The article advocates that analysis of administrative data is best done in tandem with wider quantitative and qualitative sources in order to understand the impact of crisis events on children and families.
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McTier, A. & Soraghan, J. 2022, 'The utility of administrative data in understanding the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on child maltreatment: learning from the Scotland experience', Child Maltreatment. https://doi.org/10.1177/10775595221108661