Child Abuse Prevention
April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
Children and families thrive when they have access to safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Policies and programs that are supportive of children and families can prevent child abuse and neglect and other early adversity. CDC works to better understand the problem of child abuse and neglect and to prevent it before it begins.
Facts about Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglect are significant public health problems in the United States.
- In 2016, more than 1,750 children died in the United States from abuse and neglect.
- According to child protective service agencies, about 676,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2016, although this number likely underestimates the true occurrence.
- One in 4 children have experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives and 1 in 7 experienced abuse or neglect in the past year.
- The total lifetime cost associated with just 1 year of confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect is $124 billion.
Exposure to child abuse and neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) cause toxic stress that can disrupt early brain development and harm the nervous and immune systems. Exposure to childhood adversity can increase a person’s risk for future violence, unhealthy behaviors, poor health and wellness, and limit life opportunities. This impact can be long-lasting and may continue across future generations.
Child Abuse and Neglect Are Preventable
CDC works to stop child abuse and neglect before they occur. Children’s lives are shaped by their experiences, including what happens in their environment (such as homes, schools, and neighborhoods) and the types of relationships they have with parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Healthy relationships and environments act as a buffer against adverse experiences and are necessary to ensure the long-term physical and emotional well-being of children.
CDC’s Technical Package to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
CDC’s technical package, Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities[3.9 MB], can help states and communities prevent child abuse and neglect. The technical package is a collection of strategies that represent the best available evidence to prevent child abuse and neglect and supports CDC’s Essentials for Childhood framework. The technical package highlights five strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect:
- Strengthen economic supports for 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.
The technical package is a resource to guide and inform prevention decision making in communities and states so that every child has safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.
Essentials for Parenting
Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers is a free, online resource. This resource, also available in Spanish, provides a unique opportunity for parents to receive evidence-based parenting information from a trustworthy source, CDC.