Research has found that successful child abuse prevention must reduce risk factors and promote protective factors.
Prevention measures build safe, nurturing environments for children by: normalizing parenting stress; providing support and education for parents before they get to crisis; minimizing the risk of abuse by addressing parenting habits, behaviors and situations; offering a break so parents can take care of themselves and connect with a support system; advocating for policies that protect children and invest in families; and by raising awareness to change the way communities think about prevention and the role they play in prevention efforts.
Protective factors include:
- Social-emotional competence of children – helping young children develop things such as self-confidence, self-control, patience, empathy, morality and conflict resolution will help their brain development, language skills, mental health and school success;
- Parenting and child development knowledge – understanding child development can be calming for parents and help them respond appropriately to a child’s behavior;
- Resilience – recognizing the signs of stress and enhancing problem-solving skills can improve parents’ capacity to cope
- Social connections – identifying a network of family, friends and neighbors provides parents support in times of need; and
- Concrete supports – offering parents access to financial, housing, and medical support, along with other resources to help parents meet their basic needs and focus on their role as parents