Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Font Size

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:
    • Violence, including domestic violence.
    • Drug or alcohol abuse.
    • Abusing children, or having been abused themselves.
    • Mental 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 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.

    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.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow