Age, health, and physical, mental, emotional, and social development are factors that may increase a child's vulnerability to maltreatment. Infants and young children, due to their small physical size, early developmental status, and need for constant care, can be particularly vulnerable to certain forms of maltreatment, such as abusive head trauma and physical or medical neglect. The demands of caring for these children may overwhelm their parents. This page provides resources on child factors associated with child abuse and neglect.
LGBTQ Youth and Sexual Abuse: Information for Mental Health Professionals (PDF - 1,321 KB)
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2014)
Provides information on issues and concerns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth related to sexual orientation and sexual abuse. It also includes a section for parents on issues to be aware of regarding LGBTQ youth, including sexual abuse.
Understanding and Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
American Psychological Association
Examines various issues related to child maltreatment, including child risk factors for maltreatment such as young age, disabilities or illness, and aggression or behavior problems.
InBrief: The Science of Neglect
Harvard University, Center on the Developing Child
Discusses how the absence of caregiver responsiveness can cause harm to a young child's developing brain and affect executive functioning skills and the body’s stress response. The webpage includes a 5-minute video and links to a PDF that explores additional research on this topic.
Preventing Severe and Fatal Child Maltreatment: Making the Case for the Expanded Use and Integration of Data (PDF - 241 KB)
Putnam-Hornstein, Wood, Fluke, Yoskioka-Maxwell, & Berger (2013)
Child Welfare, 92(2)
Examines risk factors for severe and fatal child maltreatment. The article describes how considering this information can advance efforts to protect children and provides examples about where the use and linkage of multiple sources of data may enhance surveillance, improve front-end decision-making, and support cost-effective research and evaluation.
Risk of Re-reporting Among Infants Who Remain at Home Following Alleged Maltreatment
Putnam-Hornstein & Simon & Eastman & Magruder (2015)
Child Maltreatment, 20(2)
Explores cases of infants who remained at home following an initial report of maltreatment. The authors sought to determine the rate of re-reporting within 5 years and found that the highest rate of re-reporting was observed among infants whose initial allegation was substantiated and who had a case opened for family services.
Securing a Bright Future: Maltreated Infants and Toddlers
Cohen & Herrick (2013)
ZERO TO THREE
Emphasizes the developmental needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system and discusses how maltreatment of this age group negatively affects intellectual functioning and social and emotional well-being. The brief outlines policy recommendations to ensure better care for young children in foster care.
Who's Most at Risk for Child Abuse? Infants (PDF - 436 KB)
Texas Workforce Commission (2012)
Texas Child Care Quarterly, 35(4)
Discusses the abuse of infants in the United States and provides information on signs to look for and steps to take to help.
Exploring Risk for Abuse of Children With Chronic Conditions or Disabilities—parent's Perceptions of Stressors and the Role of Professionals
Svensson Birgitta. & Eriksson UB. & Janson S. (2013)
Child: Care, Health and Development, 39(6)
Provides information on children with chronic conditions or disabilities who are at an increased risk for abuse. The article examines high levels of parental stress as a possible trigger for abuse.
Maltreatment of Children Under Age 2 With Specific Birth Defects: A Population-Based Study (PDF - 569 KB)
Van Horne, Moffitt, Canfield, Case, Greely, Morgan, & Mitchell (2015)
Explores the risk of maltreatment for children under age 2 with specific types of birth defects, including Down syndrome, cleft lip with or without cleft palate, and spina bifida.
Risk for Child Maltreatment Among Infants Discharged from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Sibling Comparison
Risch & Owora & Nandyal & Chaffin & Bonner & (2014)
Child Maltreatment, 19(2)
Examines the correlation between neonatal illness and increased risk for child maltreatment and expands on previous research by using a sibling comparison to control for potential study biases.
Special Care Needs and Risk for Child Maltreatment Reports Among Babies that Graduated from the Neonatal Intensive Care
Nandyal & Owora & Risch & Bard & Bonner & Chaffin (2013)
Child Abuse and Neglect, 37(12)
Investigates whether newborns discharged from intensive care are at an elevated risk for child welfare reports and looks at the role of caregiving burden as a predictor for abuse and neglect.
Abuse and Exploitation of People With Developmental Disabilities
Disability Justice (2017)
Explains the high risks of abuse and exploitation experienced by children with developmental disabilities and provides links to information about physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, psychological abuse, exploitation, financial fraud, and additional resources.
Abuse of Children With Intellectual Disabilities (PDF - 357 KB)
Provides information on the linkage between children with disabilities and child abuse and examines why children with disabilities may be more likely to be abused. The document also addresses other topics, such as types of disabilities, signs of abuse, and more.
Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade: Phase II; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Law and Justice; Institute of Medicine; & National Research Council (2014)
In New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research
Examines explanatory factors for child abuse and neglect. This chapter includes a section on individual-level (child) characteristics that could put them at greater risk of abuse and neglect, including physical and mental disabilities.
Childhood Maltreatment Among Children With Disabilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016)
Provides facts about disability and maltreatment and discusses steps that parents can take to protect children with disabilities from abuse and neglect.
For Children With Disabilities
Chicago Children's Advocacy Center
Outlines special considerations for preventing, recognizing, and responding to the abuse of children with disabilities.
Overlooked and Unheard: Abuse of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and Their Experiences With CPS and Foster Care
Lomas & Johnson (2012)
The Family Journal, 20(4)
Provides insight into the experiences of children with hearing loss and their interactions with their communities, schools, and the foster care system. The article includes specific recommendations for counselors to help improve the foster care experiences of these vulnerable children.
Prevalence of Disabilities and Abilities in Children Investigated for Abuse and Neglect (special Issue: Child Welfare and Disabilities)
Helton & Bruhn (2013)
Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7(5)
Examines the prevalence of disabilities, including cognitive, behavioral, and social, among children ages 3–10 who were part of a maltreatment investigation.
Recognizing and Preventing Abuse
Discusses safety concerns of children with autism and developmental disabilities and their increased risk of abuse, violence, and neglect. The webpage also provides information about how to prevent, recognize, and respond to abuse as well as a list of additional resources.
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Child Welfare Information Gateway
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