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Child maltreatment and well-being (CMW II): challenges across borders, research and practices. Berlin, 21st -22nd March 2019

Interdisciplinary International Conference
Berlin (Germany), March 21-22, 2019


Image Credit: Meike Wittfeld

Conference Report

From 21st – 22nd, March 2019 the second interdisciplinary international conference on “Child maltreatment and well-being: challenges across borders, research and practices” was held at Freie University Berlin, Department of Education and Psychology, Division Social Work (Social Pedagogy). It was organized by a group of researchers from Croatia, Catalonia (Spain), Israel, Northern Ireland and Germany. Around hundred researchers, professionals and (PhD) students from 21 countries and five continents and from a variety of disciplines (social work, law, psychology, sociology, educational sciences, public health) participated.

Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren, Vice President of Freie University Berlin, emphasized in his welcoming address international cooperation as a constitutive element of the Freie University Berlin since it was founded in 1948. Prof. Dr. Ulrike Urban-Stahl, head of the host institution, the social work working group, pointed out the importance to connect the discourse on child maltreatment with questions on child well-being. Friederike Lorenz, member of the international organizing committee, explained the CMW-conference line concept. Similar to the first CMW-conference in Rijeka in July 2017, the aim of the 2nd conference was to bring together an interdisciplinary community of scientists and professionals working in the field of child maltreatment and child well-being and to exchange latest research, good practice, strategies and policies on children’s welfare across boarders and among researchers of different qualification phases.

The two days conference included five Keynotes, four workshops, 42 oral presentations and 12 poster presentations.


  • Dr. Veronika Magyar-Haas (University of Zurich) showed the connection between the concepts of well-being and vulnerability and the meaning of emotions. She discussed vulnerability and emotions based on a research project on multilingualism in kindergarten settings.
  • Prof. Dr. Urike Urban-Stahl (Freie University Berlin) lectured against the background of her research about the necessity of complaint procedures for all clients in child and youth welfare.
  • Dr. Gill Main (University of Leeds) spoke in her keynote about child poverty from the perspective of children. She compared children’s own reports about their living conditions.
  • Prof. Dr. Corinne May-Chahal (Lancaster University) gave a lecture on online child sexual abuse. She pointed out gaps in research, especially in the field of sexual violence against younger children and explained why offline and online sexual violence do not represent separate worlds but must be discussed together.
  • Dr. Dirk Schubotz (Queen´s University Belfast) addressed in his keynote the possibilities of participatory research. He discussed the background of participatory research in critical and feminist approaches. Criticizing “feel-good-research” he demanded to ask for “real change” for marginalized people in participatory research projects.

The oral and poster presentations covered a wide bandwidth. They ranged from studies on welfare policies over research on parent-child interaction or the situation of children living on the street to legal questions or gender-specific studies in the field of child maltreatment.

In four workshops, the participants got the opportunity to exchange ideas and to discuss research methods and questions in depth:

  • Dr. Anouk Goemans (Leiden University) discussed the Meta-analysis method. She explained step by step how to carry out a meta-analysis and she showed some examples from the child maltreatment and well-being topic.
  • Marie Demant (Goethe University Frankfurt) offered a workshop in which ethical questions and the meaning of codes of ethics in research on violence were discussed.
  • Dr. Maksim Hübenthal (Freie University Berlin) raised open questions of the child poverty debate.
  • Prof. Dr. Timo Ackermann (Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin) took reference on own research projects and gave an interactive introduction to the possibilities of participatory research. The participants discussed and collected strategies.

During the conference, participants were asked to write down their ideas on challenges in research and practice of child protection. In the conference summary, the Members of the Organizing Committee - Stjepka Popovic, Gemma Crous, Noam Tarshish, Meike Wittfeld, Friederike Lorenz and Timo Ackermann - pointed out future challenges most frequently mentioned by the participants such as questions of internationalization, protection and power relations in research.

In conclusion, the conference offered a variety of insights into new research. Participants emphasized the good atmosphere and the lively discussions. Last but not least, research desiderata in the fields of child maltreatment and well-being were debated and open questions raised. We are therefore already looking forward to the third conference of the CMW- conference line in the year 2021!

University of Rijeka
University of Groningen
Research Institute for Quality of Life
University of Belfast