ISPCAN Child Abuse Screening Tool Children's Version (ICAST-C): Instrument development and multi-national pilot testing

Child Abuse Negl. 2009 Nov;33(11):833-41. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.09.004. Epub 2009 Oct 25.


Objective: To develop a child victimization survey among a diverse group of child protection experts and examine the performance of the instrument through a set of international pilot studies.

Methods: The initial draft of the instrument was developed after input from scientists and practitioners representing 40 countries. Volunteers from the larger group of scientists participating in the Delphi review of the ICAST P and R reviewed the ICAST C by email in 2 rounds resulting in a final instrument. The ICAST C was then translated and back translated into six languages and field tested in four countries using a convenience sample of 571 children 12-17 years of age selected from schools and classrooms to which the investigators had easy access.

Results: The final ICAST C Home has 38 items and the ICAST C Institution has 44 items. These items serve as screeners and positive endorsements are followed by queries for frequency and perpetrator. Half of respondents were boys (49%). Endorsement for various forms of victimization ranged from 0 to 51%. Many children report violence exposure (51%), physical victimization (55%), psychological victimization (66%), sexual victimization (18%), and neglect in their homes (37%) in the last year. High rates of physical victimization (57%), psychological victimization (59%), and sexual victimization (22%) were also reported in schools in the last year. Internal consistency was moderate to high (alpha between .685 and .855) and missing data low (less than 1.5% for all but one item).

Conclusions: In pilot testing, the ICAST C identifies high rates of child victimization in all domains. Rates of missing data are low, and internal consistency is moderate to high. Pilot testing demonstrated the feasibility of using child self-report as one strategy to assess child victimization.

Practice implications: The ICAST C is a multi-national, multi-lingual, consensus-based survey instrument. It is available in six languages for international research to estimate child victimization. Assessing the prevalence of child victimization is critical in understanding the scope of the problem, setting national and local priorities, and garnering support for program and policy development aimed at child protection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*