Call for Abstracts: Child Abuse Review Special Issue 2023 

Theme: Young People's Friendships and Safeguarding

Adolescence (10–25 years) is a time in an individuals' life where, in many social contexts, peer relationships increase in influence in many Western societies. When considered in the context of young people's experiences of violence and abuse, young people's friendships and wider peer relationships can:

  • Provide an initial/early route for sharing experiences of abuse and accessing support
  • Provide advice, safety and protection, particularly in unsafe social settings
  • Encourage or challenge young people's own use of violence towards partners and peers
  • Create group dynamics that normalise abusive social norms and behaviours or accelerate an individuals' involvement in harmful behaviour
  • Exclude young people from peer relationships resulting in experiences of social isolation – which itself can increase an individual's vulnerability to harm and abuse

And yet, research agendas that have informed the development of social work and wider service responses to child abuse and maltreatment have predominantly focused on abuse and protection through parent–child relationships and family contexts, failing to engage with peer dynamics of safety and harm. Moreover, these services are largely delivered by adults to young people, while young people assess support through peers who have limited understanding or strategies to recognise and support this help-seeking.

This special issue will draw together a multi-disciplinary body of thought to illuminate associations between young people's friendships, and peer relationships, and their experiences of abuse and protection. In doing so it will signal opportunities for, and challenges with, developing responses suitable for safeguarding adolescents.

The guest editors of this special issue invite contributions which:

  • Further our understanding on the associations between young people's experiences of abuse, risk, safety and protection during adolescence and their friendships (and wider peer relationships)
  • Demonstrate the implications of considering young people's peer relationships in the design of child welfare and protective services, and models of child abuse identification, assessment, intervention and prevention.

We welcome contributions in the form of Original Articles or Short Reports from researchers in fields including social work, sociology, psychology, criminology, geography, education and others. We also welcome Short Reports or Continuing Professional Development articles from practitioners involved in the development of service or system responses to young people who have experienced harm or abuse. For this special issue the guest editors are also keen to receive contributions from young people, in partnership with researchers or practitioners, who have been involved in projects that evidence or consider the influence of peer relationships and friendship on young people's safety.


Priority themes for this special issue include:

Peer relationships and their associations to child abuse in adolescence including:

  • Peer-victimisation – including bullying and peer-on-peer sexual abuse
  • Peer group offending and co-victimisation
  • Associations between negative and positive peer norms and experiences of abuse
  • Peer relationships and self-identity of young people experiencing abuse
  • Associations between abuse in intimate relationships and young people's peer associations

Help-seeking and protection within peer relationships including:

  • Support and assistance provided by peers when young people share experiences of abuse or seek help
  • Protective peer relationships for young people experiencing abuse within, and outside of, families
  • Friendship within care and statutory settings such as children's homes and refuges
  • The use of friendships or peer relationships to navigate structural forms of harm
  • Third-party reporting via peers

Peer interventions to increase the safety of young people during adolescence including:

  • Bystander interventions
  • Peer mentoring
  • Context effects on peer groups and peer relationships – such as schools, public spaces and online platforms
  • Online peer-support networks for young people

Guest Editors

If you would like to discuss a possible contribution, please contact one of our guest editors:

Important Dates

  • Deadline for Abstract Submission: 01-Nov-21
  • Full Paper Submission: 01-Mar-22
  • Final acceptance notification: 01-Dec-22

Papers will be subject to Child Abuse Review’s normal peer review procedures. See Author Guidelines