Risk factors are those characteristics linked with child abuse and neglect—they may or may not be direct causes. A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of child abuse and neglect. Although children are not responsible for the harm inflicted upon them, certain characteristics have been found to increase their risk of being abused and or neglected.
Individual Risk Factors for Victimization Children younger than 4 years of age
Special needs that may increase caregiver burden (e.g., disabilities, mental health issues, and chronic physical illnesses)
Risk Factors for Perpetration There are different levels of risk factors for the perpetrators of child maltreatment
Individual Risk Factors Families’ lack of understanding of children’s needs, child development and parenting
Parental history of child abuse and or neglect
Substance abuse and/or mental health issues including depression in the family
Parental characteristics such as young age, low education, single parenthood, a large number of dependent children, and low income
Nonbiological, transient caregivers in the home (e.g., mother’s male partner)
Parental thoughts and emotions that tend to support or justify maltreatment behaviors
Family Risk Factors Social isolation
Family disorganization, dissolution, and violence, including intimate partner violence
Parenting stress, poor parent-child relationships, and negative interactions
Community Risk Factors Community violence
Concentrated neighborhood disadvantage (e.g., high poverty and residential instability, high unemployment rates, and high density of alcohol outlets), and poor social connections.