Risk Factors of Child Abuse

There are many issues that may contribute to child abuse, but some factors increase the risk to children and young people and make them more vulnerable to abuse. They can be found in the background of parents, in the environmental situation and in attributes of the child or young person themselves.

These factors can be significant in alerting a bystander or family member to offer support to a family and keep a caring eye out.

Parental Factors:

  • Parent has already abused a child
  • Pregnancy was not wanted
  • Parent has a background of abuse when growing up
  • Young, unsupported mother often with low education
  • Parents have unrealistic expectations of the child and lack parenting knowledge
  • Parent is isolated and has few supports
  • Parent has a mental illness or is abusing drugs or alcohol

Environmental Factors:

  • Overcrowding in the house
  • Poverty or lack of opportunity to improve the family’s resources
  • Family violence is present
  • A non-biological adult living in the house
  • Family is experiencing multiple stresses

Child Factors:

  • Baby is sickly, colicky or unwanted
  • Child has a physical or developmental disability
  • Child is the product of an abusive relationship
  • Lack of attachment between child and parent