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Exploring children's perspectives on assistance in Child Advocacy Centers: A national study unveiled by new grant

A new grant enables researchers from the THRIVE research group at the Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark (SDU), to conduct a national study of Danish child advocacy centers (CACs) from the perspective of the child.

By Marianne Lie Becker, , 1/23/2024

Child abuse is prevalent worldwide and is associated with severe consequences for the child. It is crucial to halt the violence and ensure that the child and their family have access to the right assistance and support.

In Denmark, a significant part of this urgent intervention takes place in and around child advocacy centers. These centers are characterized by interdisciplinary collaboration around the child, providing a single entry point for the child and their caregivers to seek help.

Since the establishment of child advocacy centers, the number of cases of child abuse has continued to rise. Despite indications from research that the CAC model is successful, there is limited knowledge and research on how children themselves experience the intervention in these centers.

The best assistance for the children

In a new national research project, Maj Hansen, associate professor at the Department of Psychology, together with Maria Hardeberg Bach, a post-doc at the same institution, will use a grant of nearly DKK 2.5 million from the TrygFonden foundation to investigate the children's firsthand experience of the Danish child advocacy centers. The project will also consider the broader context around the child by including caregivers and professionals involved with the child. The project will commence on June 1, 2024, and will be further staffed with a post-doc position.

- The Child advocacy centers provide a coordinated, cross-sectoral, and interdisciplinary intervention in cases of abuse against children and youth. The centers is focused on creating a child-friendly environment, but there is limited research into how the children experiences being in advocacy centers themselves, such as how the child experiences the entire case process, including police video interviews, forensic examinations, assessment, and support services, explains Maj Hansen.

The project is unique in shedding light on the children's experience at the Danish child advocacy centers. The knowledge gained can contribute to ensuring that the services of the child advocacy centers are delivered in the best possible way to help the child move forward and reduce the risk of further traumatization.

Meet the researcher

Maj Hansen is associate professor at ThRIVE, Department of Psychology.


About child advocacy centers

There are five child advocacy centers in Denmark, one in each region, with two of them having smaller branches.

The centers are staffed with trained personnel who have special qualifications and skills to handle cases of abuse against children. The staff covers social work, psychological support, and secretarial services.

Municipalities should use the child advocacy center in cases where there is suspicion or knowledge of abuse against a child or young person under 18 years of age.

The police use the child advocacy center to conduct video interviews with children under 15 years of age in connection with specific investigations.

Editing was completed: 23.01.2024