Professor Deborah Fry

Director of Data, Childlight - Global Child Safety Institute / Personal Chair, International Child Protection Research


Deborah Fry is a Professor of International Child Protection Research at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Data for Childlight - Global Child Safety Institute.  At the University, Deborah undertakes primary research to measure the magnitude, drivers and consequences of violence against children, barriers and enablers to appropriate prevention and response systems including in school settings and the effectiveness of existing interventions.

Professor Fry leads the data division at Childlight - Global Child Safety Institute. The Data Institute, funded by the Human Dignity Foundation, aims to take a data driven, evidence-based approach to understanding the prevalence of child sexual exploitation and abuse across the globe and translating that data into sustainable action that safeguards children.   The mission is to establish a world leading independent institute that gathers, translates and visualises the prevalence of child sexual exploitation and abuse across the world.

The institute is supported by the University of Edinburgh’s scientific expertise, including the End Violence Lab which Professor Fry co-founded, the Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh Futures Institute, the Data-Driven Innovation Programme and the Global Health Academy.

From 2019 to present, Professor Fry serves as the academic lead for the University of Edinburgh for a Long-Term Agreement with UNICEF on child protection research, administrative data and training. Professor Fry leads studies commissioned by UNICEF offices globally on understanding the nature and drivers of violence against children and using this data for evidence-based programming and policy changes and recommendations.

In addition, Professor Fry was the academic Principal Investigator of a multi-country study exploring the drivers of violence affecting children in collaboration with the UNICEF Office of Research, Innocenti from 2013 to 2018.  And in 2012, Professor Fry secured a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship to longitudinally examine the knowledge, attitudes and perceived self-efficacy of new teachers in responding to issues of bullying and safeguarding in the classroom.

Professor Fry also undertakes postgraduate teaching and administration and teaches courses on research methods and child protection research and is the Deputy Director of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact for the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh.

Prior to joining the University, Professor Fry was Research Director at the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. During her time at the Alliance, she was the Principal Investigator (PI) on nine primary research studies on sexual violence and abuse in New York City ranging from participatory action research with immigrant communities to research with young people.

Deborah has a PhD by Research Publications from the University of Edinburgh, a Master of Arts degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, her Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University. Professor Fry was also a Fulbright Research Scholar from 2001 to 2002 and a Marie Curie Fellow from 2012 to 2015.

Research summary

Deborah's research on Preventing Violence in Childhood involves four main strands: 

  • Safe Inclusive Education
  • Drivers of Violence
  • Burden of Violence
  • Prevention

Project activity

Current and Recently Funded Research includes:

 -Principal Investigator for the ‘Multi-country Study of the Drivers of Violence Against Children in Italy, Peru, Vietnam and Zimbabwe’ funded by the Unicef Office of Research, Innocenti

-Principal Investigator to 'Develop an actionable multi-sectoral strategy to address key social and economic factors leading to child marriage in Jordan' funded by UNICEF Jordan

-Co-Principal Investigator of the ‘Safe Schools for Teens: Preventing Sexual Abuse for Urban Poor Teens in Manlia’ in collaboration with the Child Protection Network of the Philippines, the University of Manila and the Philippines Department of Education funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation

-Principal Investigator of the 'Bi-National Study: Social Norms and Violence in Zimbabwe and Swaziland' and the Zimbabwe Childline Study for Improved Monitoring funded by UNICEF.

-Co-Principal Investigator for the study, 'The Economic Burden of Violence against Children in South Africa' in collaboration with Save the Children South Africa, Univeristy of Cape Town and the China Agriculture Univeristy of Beijing 

-Principal Investigator to explore factors related to parenting for the "Secondary Analysis of the Quantitative Data Set of the UN Multi-Country Study of Men and Violence in the Asia and Pacific" - a quantitative household survey with more than 10,000 men across 9 sites in 6 countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka- and more than 3,000 women across 4 sites in 4 countries- Cambodia, China, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. 

View all 88 publications on Research Explorer