top of page

Making Life Secure For Children

Child abuse and domestic violence: Child abuse and domestic violence have been the focus and a collective effort composed from decades of research and science based studies.

Exposure to violence and abuse can be considered a form of “toxic stress.” This can interfere with early brain development, and can also lead to other negative short- and long-term consequences for children. 


Violence between adult partners in the family is associated with a loss of parent-child closeness and increased child neglect (Nicklas & Mackenzie, 2013). This decrease in family members’ ability to nurture their children can negatively impact children’s behavior and health. This experience of neglect is explained at The Science of Neglect.   

Preventing Abuse and Neglect

Research suggests that safe, stable, nurturing relationships between parents and other adults, in addition to those positive relationships between parents and their children, may help prevent child maltreatment from one generation to the next.

The major reasons for physical and psychological maltreatment of children within the family often are parental feelings of isolation, stress, and frustration. Parents need support and as much information as possible in order to raise their children responsibly. They need to be taught how to cope with their own feelings of frustration and anger without venting them on children. They also need the companionship of other adults who will listen and help during times of crisis.

Neuroscience and psychology points to a set of underlying core capabilities that adults use to manage life, work, and parenting effectively. These include, but are not limited to, planning, focus, self-control, awareness, and flexibility. To scientists, these capabilities fall under the umbrella of “self-regulation,” which is built upon a foundation of “executive function.” Self-regulation is the set of capabilities that help us to draw upon the right skills at the right time, manage our responses to the world, and resist inappropriate responses. 

Provide Support to Prevent Child Abuse & Neglect 



Add References



Strengthen economic supports to families


Change social norms to support parents and positive parenting


Provide quality care and education early in life


Enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development




Intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk

  • Strengthening household financial security

  • Family-friendly work policies

  • Public engagement and education campaigns

  • Legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment

  • Preschool enrichment with family engagement

  • Improved quality of child care through licensing and accreditation

  • Early childhood home visitation

  • Parenting skill and family relationship approaches

  • Enhanced primary care

  • Behavioral parent training programs

  • Treatment to lessen harms of abuse and neglect exposure

  • Treatment to prevent problem behavior and later involvement in violence


Two-way communication with your child provides the best chance that you will know early when a problem occurs. Emphasize that he will not get in trouble if he tells you about abuse or other confusing events. Emphasize that you need to know this to be able to keep him safe and that he will be OK if he tells you. Instead of teaching him that he’s surrounded by danger, teach him that he is strong, capable, and can count on you to keep him safe, as long as he can tell you about it.

Protective Factors

A strong community helps parents learn, supports them and reduces stress through programs and services that emphasize “protective” factors, including:

  • Nurturing and attachment

  • Knowledge and parenting and child development

  • Parental resilience

  • Social connections

  • Concrete support for parents

Successful family-support and child-abuse prevention programs bolster protective factors by:


Facilitating friendships and support

Offer opportunities for parents to get to know each other, develop support systems, and take leadership roles. Strategies may includes sports teams, pot lucks, classes, advisory groups, board leadership and volunteer opportunities


Strengthening parenting

Develop ways for parents to get support on parenting issues through classes, support groups, in-home visits, tip sheets and resource libraries.


Responding to family crises

Offer extra support to families when they need it, as in times of illness, job loss or housing problems.


Linking families to service opportunities

Provide referrals for job training, education, health care, mental health, and other community services.


Supporting children's social and emotional development

Some programs specifically focus on helping children articulate their feelings and get along with others. When children bring home what they have learned in the classroom, parents benefit as well.

  1. Fortson B, Klevens J, Merrick M, Gilbert L, Alexander S. (2016). Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Preventing Multiple Forms of Violence: A Strategic Vision for Connecting the Dots. (2016). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

bottom of page