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Health & Parenting

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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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