Ongoing research is increasing our understanding about child maltreatment. We continue to learn about conditions that make children vulnerable to harm. For example, children under the age of four can be at greater risk for maltreatment. Also, those with special needs, such as a chronic illness or disability, may be at higher risk due to increased caregiver burden.
There are also conditions that can increase the chances of someone committing child maltreatment. A parent with a history of childhood abuse or limited knowledge and skills about parenting might be at greater risk to harm a child. Families and communities experiencing social isolation and violence can also have increased risks for perpetration.
On a positive note, research is showing us how we can help protect our children. Nurturing families and supportive networks can reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. Other conditions, such as stable family relationships, supportive communities and access to health and social services, are promising protective factors.
Understanding the risk and protective factors associated with child maltreatment can help communities prevent it. For more information, please visit CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention website.