Preventing Child Abuse By Identifying Risk Factors

Age and poverty are two of the top risk factors for child abuse, according to long-time 100WomenStrong grant recipient, Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS). The group, through its Healthy Families Program, works to halt child abuse and neglect, as well as to prevent its occurrence in the first place. To help you and others recognize and intervene, Healthy Families shared the following leading risk factors during National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
 

Age: In cases of neglect, younger children are more at risk because they are less likely to be able to defend themselves, speak up for themselves or remove themselves from harm’s way. In cases of sexual abuse, risk increases with the child’s age.

Learning disability, congenital anomaly, or chronic or recurrent illness: Challenges such as these make physical and emotional abuse and neglect more common.

Poverty and/or financial hardship: High stress takes a severe toll on parents’ ability to tolerate frustration. In addition, working long hours — a common result of working multiple jobs — can impede parents’ awareness of their child’s emotional well-being or whether there is abuse occurring when the child is under someone else’s care.

Another family member is experiencing domestic violence: In 30 to 60 percent of families where spousal abuse takes place, child maltreatment also occurs.

You can help children in your community:

  • Be a friendly face and a source of encouragement for children in your neighborhood.
  • Offer to babysit for a neighbor or friend, especially if they seem stressed. All parents need support.
  • Become a mentor— formally or informally — to a child or to another parent.

Reporting abuse when you suspect it is the primary way to combat child abuse.

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100WomenStrong is a proud fund of Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties