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    Child Abuse and Neglect - What Increases the Risk

    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:
    • 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 hardships alone.

    Risk factors for children

    The risk of abuse and neglect increases when a child has a disability or other health issue, such as:

    Bonding problems

    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 other multiples.
    • A long hospitalization of the newborn and separation from parents because of premature birth or health problems.
    • Challenges related to fostering or adopting a child.
    • Mental health problems in a caregiver. For example, a parent who is severely depressed may unintentionally neglect his or her child.
    • 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 affection.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 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 information.
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