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Child Abuse & Neglect

The Basics

Man and child

Child abuse and neglect is a complex issue that affects countless families across the country, regardless of geography, ethnicity, or income. Adverse childhood experiences can not only harm a child while young, but have a significant impact on social and health issues later in life as an adult. Thankfully, safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are shown to help families thrive and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

A parent with a history of childhood abuse or limited knowledge and skills about parenting might be at greater risk to harm a child. Families and communities experiencing social isolation and violence can also have increased risks for perpetration.

Protective Factors

Protective Factors

Nurturing families and supportive networks can reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. Other conditions, such as stable family relationships, supportive communities, and access to health and social services, are promising protective factors.



Harm to brain development and the nervous and immune systems can occur. As children grow into adulthood, they are at increased risk for heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, obesity, smoking, suicide, and other leading causes of illness and death.

Essentials for Childhood Framework

Essentials for Childhood is designed to help communities through strategies to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. The steps suggested in the Essentials for Childhood Framework — along with your commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect—can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive. Below, you will find information and interactive sources to help you with each goal area.


Working in Four Goal Areas...



No one can prevent child abuse and neglect alone. This goal demonstrates how to raise awareness about safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. It will help you build a strong vision, partner with key stakeholders, and create sustained commitment.

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This goal will help you leverage information to make effective solutions. Factual information can help you recognize the size and nature of the problem in your community and the strengths you have to address it. This goal will help you gather this information and apply it in future steps.

  • ACEs Infographic

    This piece visualizes key information about the ACEs study, and the links it found between ACEs, social issues, and health problems.


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In this goal, your focus will be creating the context for healthy children and families through norms change and programs. Throughout this goal, you will uncover ways to promote social norms change and evidence-based strategies you can implement in the broader community.

Social Norms
  • Social Norms

    Visit this VetoViolence page to learn more about the role social norms play in health behavior change and prevention strategies.

  • Promoting Positive Community Norms

    This guide provides information about creating a context for increasing safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children and families by promoting positive community norms.

  • The Raising of America

    Explore with subject matter experts and families as they discuss the challenges people face raising children in the United States.

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The final goal area will help you consider how the context for healthy children and families can be achieved through policies from organizations in both the public and private sector. This goal will help you identify policies that positively impact children and families (whether they be organizational, regulatory, or legislative policies) and inform decision-makers on the benefits.

  • Making the Case: Engaging Businesses

    This tool will help you explore the potential of policy changes within businesses to help promote Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.

  • Essentials for Childhood

    Explore the fourth and final goal of the Essentials for Childhood Framework for more information about creating the context for healthy children and families through policies.

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