Child abuse and neglect affect children of every age, race, and income level. However, research has identified many factors relating to the
child, family, community, and society that are associated with an increased risk of child abuse and neglect. Studies also have shown that when multiple risk factors are present, the risk is greater.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. People often ask what are some key causes or factors in cases of child abuse. I did some reading and I will list some of the risk factors that can lead to cases of child abuse and neglect below:
- Immaturity. Young parents may lack
experience with children or be unprepared for
the responsibility of raising a child.
- Unrealistic expectations. A lack of knowledge
about normal child development or behavior
may result in frustration and, ultimately,
- Substance use. The effects of substance use,
as well as time, energy, and money spent
obtaining drugs or alcohol, significantly
impair parents’ abilities to care for their
- Inter-generational trauma. Parents’ own experiences of childhood trauma impact their relationships with their children.
- Isolation. Effective parenting is more difficult when parents lack a supportive partner, family, or community.
These circumstances, combined with the inherent challenges of raising children, can result in otherwise well-intentioned parents causing their children harm or neglecting their needs. Evidence shows that the majority of families who have these circumstances will not abuse or neglect their children.
Protective factors act as buffers to help many families who are under stress parent effectively and not harm their children. We should sponsor community events that support families and include a broad representation of family-
• Town hall meeting. Invite local legislators,
parent leaders, and other community leaders
to discuss issues affecting local families.
•Human services fair. Invite partner organizations
to present on topics that help parents meet
their families’ needs, such as finding adequate
medical care, safe and affordable child care, and
substance abuse treatment.
Ethnic street fairs. These events offer families
a way to enjoy their cultural heritage in the
company of others. Community organizations
can provide prevention information and
educational materials at booths and through
family-friendly activities such as parent-child
craft activities and puppet shows.
These are just a few ways to create community events that support families and include a broad representation of the community’s family strengthening partnerships that could prevent abuse where you live.