Child Abuse and Neglect: Why This Topic Is Important

Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness domestic violence, often exhibit emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, such as depression, suicidal behavior, difficulty in school, use of alcohol and other drugs, and early sexual activity. Children who are abused or neglected also are more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by entering into violent relationships as teens and adults or abusing their own children.

Child abuse and neglect are underreported, and are found in families of all socioeconomic levels and ethnic groups. A variety of risk factors exist for child abuse/neglect. Primary among them is parental substance abuse. Another risk factor is domestic violence. Research shows that in 30% to 60% of families that experience domestic violence, children also are abused.* Other contributing factors include parental mental illness, poverty, and child disability. Prevention of child abuse and neglect requires public education and commitment from communities to provide emotional, social, and financial support systems for families. 

In Harm's Way: Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment. (1999). National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.