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The Evaluation of Children's Hearings in Scotland: Volume 3 - Children in Focus

Annex 2

Statistical notes

1. Where percentages are quoted, figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number and therefore percentages do not always sum to 100 per cent. Percentages of 0.5 have been rounded up to the nearest whole number. In the presentation of information in some Tables where, for example, a single child is represented in a category and the resulting percentage is less than 1% the relevant percentage has been indicated in the Table.

2. Totals in individual Tables and Figures are based on the total number of cases for which information was available. These totals are represented N and the corresponding number. The totals vary, depending on the numbers of Reporters responding to the individual questions in the survey. Reporters did not always complete each question. Therefore data was missing in these cases. Rarely is there complete information on all 1,155 children for each question.

3. Valid percents have been reported in the main, i.e. as a percentage of the number of responses rather than of the whole sample.

4. The 'median' is the middle number of a group of numbers, which helps to show if the 'mean' (average) is reliable or whether a particularly large or small number has skewed it. The 'mode' is the number that occurs most frequently in a set of numbers. The mode is usually followed by a percentage in square brackets to identify how often the mode occurred

5. In some Tables the total will be more than 100% if more than one response to a question was invited. For example, Reporters indicated all their concerns about each child and the first four responses were encoded.

6. A significance level of .01 has been used where the data indicated a strong relationship beyond the normal .05 test of significance.

Notes on SWS21 data

7. SWS21 data is based on referrals rather than children. On each occasion a child is referred to a Reporter one statistical return is completed and sent to Social Work Services Group.

8. Data from the SWS21 system has a hierarchical structure. This means that a single child may be referred to the system one or any number of times. Any child, therefore, may have multiple records. Statistics regarding referrals are relatively straightforward to analyse. Any discussion of the children involved in the system must first aggregate all the individual records of referral for each child.

9. Grouping together the information about individual children requires a number of decisions. Certain things will remain constant, such as the child's identification number, sex, and date of birth. However, even gathering what would be basic statistics in non-hierarchical data sets requires more specific choices. For example, in calculating the average age children were referred to the hearings system, a child may have been referred at a number of ages, and a decision has to be made about which referral age should be the focus of the analysis.

10. The hierarchical data (SWS21) is further limited by the fact that certain information cannot be grouped together. Dates of referral are one such example. The total number of referrals for various grounds can be added together, but not the timing of these referrals in relation to each other. However, its structure has also allowed comparison of the children who come into contact with the system with the overall nature of their referrals.

11. It is important to note the distinction between the number of referrals (in which the same child may appear more than once) and the number of children (where each child is represented only once) throughout the information presented.

12. The instructions for the SWS21 require the completion of a separate SWS21 form for offence and non-offence grounds, even if a child were referred on both grounds at the same time. This means that an analysis of individual referrals makes it impossible for a single referral to record both offence and non-offence grounds. Children will appear never to be referred on both offence and non-offence grounds unless the information for their referrals over time is combined.

13. The system of data collection for SWS21 data sheets changed in 1986 to include more detailed information than prior to 1986. In some Tables and Figures the information does not include that for referrals made before 1986. The data is labelled clearly where this occurs.

14. Further general statistical notes on SWS21 data can be found at the end of the annual Statistical Bulletins produced by the Scottish Office. It should be noted that annual Children's Hearings statistics are now under the management of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration.