A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of child abuse and neglect. Although children are not responsible for the harm inflicted upon them, certain characteristics have been found to increase their risk of being maltreated. Risk factors are those characteristics associated with child abuse and neglect—they may or may not be direct causes (CDC, 2016).
Individual risk factors
Individual Risk Factors
Family risk factors
Community risk factors
Protective factors buffer children from being abused or neglected. These factors exist at various levels. Protective factors have not been studied as extensively or rigorously as risk factors. However, identifying and understanding protective factors are equally as important as researching risk factors (CDC, 2016).
There is scientific evidence to support the following protective factor:
Family protective factors
Several other potential protective factors have been identified. Research is ongoing to determine whether the following factors do indeed buffer children from maltreatment (CDC, 2016).
Family Protective Factors
Community protective factors
Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on victims. The goal for child maltreatment prevention is clear—to stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. Child abuse is a complex problem rooted in unhealthy relationships and environments. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent child abuse. However, the solutions are as complex as the problem (CDC, 2016a).
Child abuse and neglect are complex problems rooted in unhealthy relationships and environments. Preventing child abuse and neglect requires a comprehensive approach that influences all levels of the social ecology (including the societal culture), community involvement, relationships among families and neighbors, and individual behaviors. Effective prevention strategies focus on modifying policies, practices, and societal norms to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. (CDC, 2016a).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers extensive information and links on child abuse prevention techniques and programs at its website. A number of studies and programs are particularly relevant to health care providers who may be involved with child abuse situations.
The Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program (ICAPP) is a state and federally funded program that was established by Iowa Legislature in 1982. Prevent Child Abuse Iowa administers the program, as well as providing assistance and guidance to the organizations that offer direct family support with ICAPP funds. Their website is: http://www.pcaiowa.org/.