About National Child Abuse Prevention Month

During April, we recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) and the importance of communities working together to support and strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being and work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

NCAPM activities are implemented in partnership with our National Child Abuse Prevention Partners, the Federal Inter-Agency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect, and families with lived expertise.

NCAPM and other Federal child abuse-related activities are authorized by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA provides funding to States to support the prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. It also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including American Indian/Alaska Native Tribes and Tribal organizations, for demonstration programs and projects. About CAPTA: A Legislative History provides more information about this important legislation.

Each year, the Children's Bureau releases a Child Maltreatment report that explores data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, which provides details on cases of child abuse and neglect known to child protective services (CPS) agencies in the United States. The Child Maltreatment reports are an important resource relied upon by researchers, practitioners, and advocates. 

The reports answer questions such as the following:

  • How many children were the subject of child abuse and neglect reports?
  • What types of maltreatment were reported?
  • What were the ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and other characteristics of child victims?
  • How many children died from child maltreatment?

They also provide information about the services provided to children and families each year by State and local CPS agencies. These services, provided both when children remain in their homes and when they must enter out-of-home care, are intended to address the conditions that brought the family to the attention of the CPS agency and to prevent future instances of child maltreatment. 

The following are highlights from Child Maltreatment 2022

  • Approximately 1.9 million children received prevention services. 
  • More than half (55 percent) of victims received postresponse services.
  • Fewer than one-quarter (19.6 percent) of confirmed maltreatment victims were removed from their homes because of an investigation or alternative response.

These data only include services provided or funded by State and local CPS agencies.

We also recognize the critical work of the thousands of community-based agencies that offer additional services to these and other families to help keep children safe and help their families thrive. 

To access additional information and resources on child abuse and neglect, visit the State Child Abuse & Neglect Policies Database.

Protective Factors, ACEs, and the Social-Ecological Model

Knowledge and understanding of protective factors and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), as well as the social-ecological model, can inform efforts to reduce the risk of maltreatment and prevent the recurrence of abuse or neglect by drawing on family strengths and acknowledging the impact of traumatic events.

Protective factors. Protective factors are conditions or attributes that, when present in families and communities, increase the well-being of children and families and reduce the likelihood of maltreatment. Identifying protective factors, such as the following, helps parents find resources, supports, or coping strategies to keep their family strong even when life is challenging:

  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports for parents
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Adverse childhood experiences. ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur before a child reaches the age of 18 and can include the following:

  • All types of abuse and neglect
  • Parental substance use or mental illness
  • Parental incarceration
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce

A landmark study in the 1990s found a significant relationship between the number of ACEs a person experienced and a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood, including poor physical and mental health, substance use, and risky behaviors. The more ACEs experienced, the greater the risk for these outcomes. By definition, children served by child welfare have experienced at least one ACE. Understanding the impact of ACEs and how to build resilience in children and families can lead to more trauma-informed interventions that help mitigate negative outcomes.

For more information and resources about ACEs, please visit the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) page on the Information Gateway website or review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Prevention Strategy. 

Social-ecological model. A social-ecological model acknowledges the many factors that influence caregivers' ability to nurture and protect their children. These factors occur at three levels: societal (e.g., Federal and State policies, societal norms about parenting), systems (e.g., collaborations within a community or jurisdiction to support families), organizational (i.e., the programs and policies of a single agency), community (i.e., representing the voices of community members and leaders with lived experience), and the family itself. To prevent maltreatment, it is often necessary to address multiple levels at the same time. 

To learn more about protective factors, ACEs, and the social-ecological model, please read the 2023/2024 Prevention Resource Guide.

The 23rd National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), sponsored by the Children's Bureau, was held virtually in April 2023. The 23rd NCCAN offered a unique opportunity for thought leadership and action-oriented dialogue around the conference theme: "Doing Things Differently: Moving from the Challenge to the Change." At the 23rd NCCAN, participants explored strategies to realize this vision. 

Sign up with the Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center to stay up-to-date on learning opportunities, related resources, and information on NCCAN throughout the year.