About us

Dr. Deborah Fry leads the Preventing Violence in Childhood Research work and is Senior Lecturer in Child Protection at Moray House. Deborah undertakes primary research to measure the magnitude, drivers and consequences of violence against children, barriers and enablers to appropriate response systems including in school settings and the effectiveness of existing interventions.  The impact from Deborah’s work was recently highlighted in the University of Edinburgh Annual Review.

Deborah also undertakes postgraduate teaching and administration and teaches courses on research methods and child protection research and is Co-Programme Director of the MSc in Education.

She has comprehensive experience in researching issues of violence within school settings, developing quantitative research including electronic and ACASI surveys, leading qualitative research, conducting systematic reviews and conducting research with practitioners and policymakers.

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, and a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University.  Deborah was also a Fulbright Research Scholar from 2001 to 2002 and a Marie Curie Fellow from 2012 to 2015.


Tabitha Casey has worked as Project Manager for Preventing Violence in Childhood Research at Moray House since 2015. In this role she has coordinated Dr Fry’s research projects on international child protection spanning across Latin America, Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia, and has co-authored a number of peer-reviewed articles, reports and a book on child protection and disability. She is also Project Manager for the Safe Inclusive Schools Network co-led by Dr Fry.

Tabitha also has experience working on disability rights and peace and security issues in the US and Ireland. She has an MPH from New York University and a Master’s in Disability Studies from Trinity College Dublin.


Research consultants

Zain Kurdi

Zain Kurdi is a Research Fellow for the Evaluation of the NSPCC’s Speak Out. Stay Safe Programme, in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked in violence prevention and child protection in both the field and in academia for 10 years. After graduating with a First in BA(H) Human Geography from Nottingham Trent University, with an emphasis on medical and population geography; she began her career in the Violence against Women field with the UNWomen Arab States Regional Office and then Iraq Office. Zain moved into the field of child protection and violence prevention when she joined UNICEF Jordan Country Office as a Monitoring & Evaluation Officer. After completing a Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology and Statistics) from the University of Edinburgh, she joined Dr. Fry’s team in the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House in 2013. Zain has worked with Dr. Fry on a number of projects, including Safe Schools survey following teacher trainees into their first year as qualified teachers. UNICEF’s Multi–Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children covering Peru, Vietnam, Italy and Zimbabwe, an R3P in Nigeria, a study on Child Marriage in Jordan and various data analyses and synthesis on Adolescent Interpersonal Violence. In addition to a Systematic Review on interventions in schools to address homophobic bullying, and an integrative review on disclosure of child abuse in school settings. Zain has first hand experience conducting research with children and adolescents, as well as setting indicators for monitoring and evaluating psychosocial and educational interventions. She has a comprehensive background in conducting surveys and quantitative data analysis. 

Stuart Elliott has worked in the field of violence prevention for two years, transitioning from an academic background in the social sciences and a support role with the University of Edinburgh’s Disability Service. As part of gaining a Masters in Public Health (with Distinction) from the University of Edinburgh, he worked with Dr Fry as his dissertation adviser on a project utilising the Quantitative Data Set of the UN Multi-Country Study of Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific focusing on paternal risk factors for violent discipline and sexual abuse. After gaining his Master’s, he joined Dr Fry’s violence in childhood research group at the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House working on several projects with a special emphasis on Zimbabwe. He also worked with the UNICEF Zimbabwe country office as a consultant attached to the Child Protection Unit working on their violence against children projects. In addition, he has collaborated with Dr Fry on several further projects including with the University of Edinburgh’s Safe and Inclusive Schools Network co-authoring a global systematic review and meta-analysis on the impact that violence in childhood has on learning and other educational outcomes. 


Dr Kirsteen Mackay is an academic lawyer whose overarching research interest is in law and policy as it underpins the promotion of the rights of children, and in preventing gender-based violence. In the past this led her to undertake commissioned work for the office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland (CYPCS), and to work as a Research Fellow for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Children (NSPCC) within the University of Edinburgh. More recently, she has contributed analysis of key relevant legislation and policy within Swaziland, as well as analysis of qualitative data on the drivers of violence against children in Swaziland, for the UNICEF funded research led by Dr Deborah Fry on behalf of Swaziland Deputy Prime Ministers Office, the University of Edinburgh and UNICEF.

Dr Mackay is also an Associate Lecturer with the Open University in the United Kingdom, where she delivers teaching on: the intersections between Law, Culture and Society; Social Work Law in Scotland; and, Research with Children and Young People. Her teaching methods include to face teaching and the use of synchronous and asynchronous online instruction for remote students, thus promoting inclusivity in education.

Dr Mackay has an honours degree in Law from the University of Edinburgh, an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, a PhD in Family Law, and a Post-graduate Certificate in Academic Practice. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.


Eilidh Moir completed her MA in International Relations in 2007 and worked in public policy before undertaking a PhD in political geography at the University of Exeter. Eilidh’s studies surrounded localism, community ownership and decision-making, including aspects of behavioural economics. Eilidh is also trained and accredited as a Community Organiser, supporting grassroots projects and local empowerment to promote the interests of communities. Eilidh joined Dr Fry’s team in 2015 as a research assistant, working across the R3P projects including UNICEF’s Multi-Country Study on the Divers of Violence Affecting Children. Eilidh is now a consultant to Dr Fry’s team and more recently provided technical assistance to the national team for UNICEF Nigeria’s R3P study, Understanding the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children in Nigeria. Eilidh works across public health more widely and is an evaluation officer for NHS Tayside and a consultant to the Mental Health Foundation.


PhD students

Bekkah Bernheim

Bekkah Bernheim is a first-year Social Policy PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to undertaking her PhD, Bekkah worked for two years in Armenia as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the community and youth development sector before completing an MSc Childhood Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Her PhD research is focused on displaced girls’ experiences of resettlement in both a rural and an urban context, with a particular focus on mobility and integration. The experiences of forced migrants resettled in a rural context are markedly different from those resettled in an urban context due to available resources, access to services, and local social and cultural norms. Through the use of ethnographic methods, her research seeks to understand what constraints and enablers impact girls’ (im)mobility, and how these girls resist, comply with, and/or redefine mobility boundaries, and if and how this contributes to, or in fact, inhibits the societal integration of displaced girls in Scotland.


Lakshmi Neelakantan_edited

Lakshmi Neelakantan is a PhD candidate at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, supervised by Dr. Deborah Fry and Prof. Lani Florian. Prior to this degree, Lakshmi completed an M.Sc. in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from the University of Oxford, and bachelor’s degrees in Law and Arts from National Law University, Jodhpur. Lakshmi has worked as an international trade attorney with a leading law firm in India where she advised on matters in international trade law, and as a researcher with Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

Lakshmi’s PhD research explores measurement of child abuse and neglect, with a focus on development and testing of global child abuse measures, in collaboration with Dr. Franziska Meinck (University of Oxford). Specifically, she is interested in exploring how children and caregivers, in different contexts, perceive, react to, and understand questions on abuse and neglect. With this research, Lakshmi aims to provide recommendations on developing child abuse measures that are acceptable in different cultural contexts. Besides her doctorate, Lakshmi is also working on a systematic review of child abuse measures, supervised by Dr. Franziska Meinck (University of Oxford).


Takuya Numajiri is a PhD student in Education at the University of Edinburgh. For the Preventing Violence in Childhood work, he specializes in quantitative data analysis and has worked on various projects in Zimbabwe and Nigeria, and on the Safe Schools for Teens project. Before embarking on his PhD, Takuya worked in countries such as Vanuatu and St. Lucia as a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer. He also worked for the JICA research institute as a research assistant working on a project following up on the pilot data collection for the System Approach for Better Education Results on School Autonomy and Accountability in Burkina Faso and Senegal. His PhD, which is supervised by Professor Cristina Iannelli and Dr Tom Macyntire, focuses on factors affecting mathematics achievement of primary school students in St Lucia. He is passionately committed to improving the quality of education for all.


Karina Padilla is a first-year Ph.D. student in Social Policy at The University of Edinburgh. She is a psychologist with a master’s degree in Community Psychology by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). She has experience in the coordination, design, execution, and monitoring of policies of childhood policies.

Considering theoretical evidence about children in early years and children’s living experience in natural emergency settings, her Ph.D. research intends to have further information about lived citizenship in early childhood in a flood-prone area in Amazonian Peru. Through qualitative approach and by using ethnographic methods, she intends to explore children’s experience and adults’ perceptions about citizenship. Also, she is going to conduct policy analysis to understand the relationship between local and regional policies and the development of citizenship. Finally, her research proposal to analyse if the theoretical components of children´s citizenship appropriate for the context of a flood-prone area in Amazonian Peru.