Examining resilience among child protection professionals during COVID-19: A global comparison across 57 countries

Carmit Katz, Ma'ayan Jacobson, Sidnei R. Priolo Filho, Deborah Goldfarb, Jenny Liu, Murilo R. Zibetti, Natalia Varela, Afnan Attrash Najjar, Annie Bérubé, Delphine Collin-Vézina, Kathryn Maguire-Jack, Nadia Massarweh, Akhtar Munir, Ashwini Tiwari, Christine Wekerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic led to numerous challenges for child protection professionals (CPPs). However, limited research has investigated the interwoven concepts of coping, resilience, and mental distress among CPPs during COVID-19 on a global scale. Objectives: This study aimed to explore CPPs' practice, resilience, and mental distress during COVID-19, the relationship between their resilience and mental distress, the global stability of the Multi-System Model of Resilience (MSMR), and how CPPs' resilience varied according to the Human Development Index (HDI). Methods: Data were collected from 420 CPPs in 57 countries across five continents between July and September 2021. Participants completed an online questionnaire on demographics, resilience, mental distress, coping, and perceptions of child protection during the pandemic in their native languages. The analyses compared the countries grouped according to HDI using means comparisons, correlations, and multiple linear regressions. A two-path analysis was also performed to identify variables associated with behavioral resilience engagement and mental distress. Results: The findings indicated that CPPs' perceptions of COVID-19's impact on child maltreatment varied in correlation with their country's HDI. There were also significant HDI-based differences regarding the perceived opportunity to engage in resilient behavior and its helpfulness. Years of professional experience, internal resilience, and external resilience were shown to be significant predictors of mental distress among CPPs during the pandemic, and resilience mediated how years of experience predicted mental distress. Conclusions: This study emphasized the importance of experience and internal resilience for CPPs’ psychological well-being. It also provides empirical evidence to support the MSMR theory on a global scale. Additionally, it demonstrates how the perceived changes in child maltreatment during COVID-19 may be associated with regional HDI. Lastly, the opportunities CPPs had to engage in resilient behavior and how much this helped them was associated with regional HDI, but not in the way originally predicted. Study results also hold implications for how practice and policy may be altered to help CPPs cope better during times of crisis and generally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106659
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Child Protection Professionals (CPPs)
  • Global
  • Human Development Index (HDI)
  • Mental Distress
  • Resilience

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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