Research has uncovered a number of risk factors or attributes commonly associated with maltreatment. Children in families and environments where these factors exist have a greater likelihood of experiencing maltreatment.
A greater understanding of risk factors can help professionals working with children and families to identify stressors and situations that put them at increased risk for child abuse and neglect and intervene and support them before maltreatment occurs. It must be emphasized, however, that while certain factors often are present among families where maltreatment occurs, this does not mean that the presence of these factors causes child abuse and neglect.
Certain conditions or attributes, called protective factors, may lessen the likelihood of children being abused or neglected. By identifying protective factors, professionals can acquire a more holistic view of family experiences and engage with other service providers in developing a multiservice system response. Understanding the role of protective factors is as important as recognizing risk factors.
Common factors associated with increased risk of child maltreatment are often categorized as follows:
Child Maltreatment 2019
This annual report summarizes child abuse statistics submitted by States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) during federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019. The data are presented in aggregate and by State, and trends are reported when available. Statistics are presented for the following: referrals and reports of child maltreatment, characteristics of victims and nonvictims, fatalities that occurred as a result of maltreatment, characteristics of perpetrators of maltreatment, and services to prevent maltreatment and to assist children and families. The final chapter presents analyses of specific subsets of children. During FFY 2019, an estimated 656,000 children were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect, a decrease from FFY 2018; the number of children who received a child protective services investigation response or alternative response decreased to 3,476,000 in 2019; 84.5% of victims suffer a single type of maltreatment, with 61% suffering neglect only, 10.3% suffering physical abuse only, and 7.2% suffering sexual abuse only; children in their first year of life have the highest rate of victimization at 25.7 per 1,000 children; American-Indian or Alaska Native children have the highest rate of victimization at 14.8 per 1,000 in the population of the same race or ethnicity, and African American children have the second highest rate at 13.7 per 1,000; 83% of perpetrators are between the ages of 18 and 44, 53% are female, 48.9% are White, and 77.5% are a parent to their victim; 60.8% of victims and 27.7% of nonvictims received post-response services; 29 States reported 877 unique victims of sex trafficking in FFY 2019; and an estimated 1,840 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.50 per 100,000 children in the national population, an increase from the 1,780 in FFY 2018. Numerous tables and figures.
Promoting Protective Factors for In-Risk Families and Youth: A Guide for Practitioners
Presents information from a review of current research linking protective factors to well-being for the five in-risk populations served by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF): children exposed to domestic violence, homeless and runaway youth, pregnant and parenting teens, victims of child abuse and neglect, and youth in and aging out of foster care. Topics include individual skills and capacities that can improve the well-being of children and youth; how parents, guardians, and others can contribute to the well-being of these children; and strategies for practitioners. A model framework for organizing and applying protective factors is included, as well as a table listing specific protective factors for ACYF populations by level of influence. This publication is part of a series of five factsheets for practitioners exploring the importance of protective factors in working with in-risk populations served by ACYF.
Promoting Protective Factors for Victims of Child Abuse and Neglect: A Guide for Practitioners
Presents information from a review of current research on specific protective factors that carry moderate or strong association with improved well-being for victims of child abuse and neglect. Topics include individual skills and capacities that can improve the well-being of children who have been abused or neglected; how parents, guardians, friends, and other adults can contribute to the well-being of these children and youth; strategies for practitioners; and resources for more information. This publication is part of a series of five factsheets for practitioners exploring the importance of protective factors in working with in-risk populations served by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.
Risk and Protective Factors
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Describes individual, family, and community factors associated with child abuse and neglect.
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