A risk factor is anything that makes you more likely to have a certain problem or disease.
Risk factors for parents and caregivers
People are more likely to abuse or neglect children if they:
Are living in poverty or near poverty. This is a major risk factor for child abuse and neglect.
Have a history of:
including domestic violence.
Drug or alcohol abuse.
Abusing children, or having been abused themselves.
health problems, such as depression.
Have little knowledge about how children grow and what to expect from them.
Have a high stress level that is not managed well. This often includes being a single or teen parent or
having several young children close in age.
Don't have good support. A parent or caregiver who doesn't have financial, emotional, and other types of support may have to deal with a variety of
Risk factors for children
The risk of abuse and
neglect increases when a child has a disability or other health issue, such
Being a premature baby. Babies born early often add
emotional and financial stress to a family because they need longer and more
expensive hospital care. They may also need to be watched closely once they are home.
A physical disability, such as blindness or being
confined to a wheelchair.
Another risk factor for children is not having a close bond with parents. Not having a close bond may be caused by:
Parents not wanting the child.
The birth of twins or
A long hospitalization of the newborn and separation
from parents because of premature birth or health
Challenges related to fostering or adopting a
Mental health problems in a caregiver. For example, a parent
who is severely depressed may unintentionally neglect his or her
A child with a major health problem or disability, such as
blindness, deafness, or
autism. These types of problems can make it hard
for a parent to communicate with the child or for the child to give and receive
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this