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Child Abuse and Neglect - Treatment Overview

Early treatment gives an abused or neglected child the best chance for recovery.

Treatment for the child

The first step is to provide a safe environment to prevent further harm. The sooner this happens, the better the child's chance for physical and emotional recovery. This includes separating the child, as well as any other children in the household, from the person suspected of abuse.

Any physical injuries will be treated, either in a hospital or at a doctor's office, depending on how serious they are.

Counseling is always recommended for abused or neglected children. It usually focuses on:

  • How they feel about themselves.
  • Their past experiences.
  • Fears and concerns they may have about the present and future.

For very young children, counseling may involve play therapy.

Treatment for parents or caregivers

Parents or caregivers who have abused or neglected a child also need treatment. The type of treatment depends on the specific abuse that occurred.

Some people need to learn more about how to raise and care for children. Others may need treatment for other serious problems, such as:

Parents who have lost custody of their children can sometimes regain it. It depends on how bad the abuse or neglect was and how far they have come in realizing what their problems are and how to prevent them.

In severe cases, the parent can see the child only when someone else is present. Sometimes a judge permanently ends the parent-child relationship.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: December 07, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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