This article reviewed the different surveillance systems used to monitor the extent of reported child maltreatment in North America.
Key measurement and definitional differences between the surveillance systems are detailed and their potential impact on the measurement of the rate of victimization. The infrastructure requirements, quality of information, timely access to data and the usefulness for child welfare policy are compared and contrasted and a summary table of the type of information by each system is presented.
Two studies collect data regarding the extent and nature of child maltreatment using survey methodology reported to professionals: the United States National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS) and the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS), and the United States National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) uses administrative data methods to collect annual case-level and state data.
The purpose of this comparison is to assist researchers and policy analysts with interpreting data from these studies as well as to help officials from other countries in developing surveillance systems that are appropriately adapted to their needs.