Child Maltreatment: Prevention Strategies
Child maltreatment is a serious problem that can have lasting harmful effects on victims. The goal for child maltreatment prevention is simple—to stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. However, the solutions are as complex as the problem.
Prevention efforts should ultimately reduce risk factors and increase the factors that buffer against risk. In addition, prevention should address all levels that influence child maltreatment: individual, relationship, community, and society. Effective prevention strategies are necessary to promote awareness about child maltreatment and to foster commitment to social change.
- Child-Parent Centers
Child-Parent Centers (CPCs) provide comprehensive educational and family support to economically disadvantaged children and their parents. The program requires parental participation and emphasizes a child-centered, individualized approach to social and cognitive development. In a matched control trial, children participating in these centers had a 52 percent reduction in child maltreatment (Reynolds & Robertson, 2003).
- Nurse-family Partnership
Nurse-Family Partnership is a nurse home visitation program for low-income, first-time parents and their children beginning prenatally and continuing up to the child’s second birthday. The program encourages healthy behaviors during and after pregnancy, teaches appropriate parenting skills, and links parents to community services. A randomized controlled trial documented a 48 percent reduction in child maltreatment at the 15-year follow-up (Olds et al., 1997).
- Triple P
Triple P is a multi-level system of parenting interventions based on need usually delivered through health care. In the U.S. Triple P System Trial, funded by the CDC, researchers found an 28% reduction in substantiated abuse cases, an 44% reduction in child out-of-home placements, and an 35% reduction in hospitalizations and emergency room visits for child injuries in nine study counties in South Carolina where parenting interventions were implemented (Prinz et al., 2009).
- California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
This organization provides on-line access to information about evidence-based child welfare practices in a simple, straightforward format. Evidence-based practices are those that have empirical research supporting their efficacy.
- Reviews of available interventions to prevent child maltreatment:
- Daro D, McCurdy, K. Interventions to prevent child maltreatment. In Doll L, Bonzo S, Sleet D, Mercy J, Hass E, editors. Handbook of Injury and Violence Prevention. New York (NY): Springer; 2007.p.137-156.
- Howard KS, Brooks-Gunn J. The role of home-visiting programs in preventing child abuse and neglect. Future of Children. 2009;19(2):119–146.
- Lundahl BW, Nimer J. Preventing child abuse: A meta-analysis of parent training programs. Research on Social Work Practice. 2006;16(3):251–262.
- Mikton C, Butchart A. Child maltreatment prevention: A systematic review of reviews. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2009;87(5):325–404.
- Task Force on Community Preventive Services. First reports evaluating the effectiveness of strategies for preventing violence: Early childhood home visitation. MMWR Recommendations and Reports. 2003;52(RR14):1-9.
- Violence Prevention Evidence Base
This database, developed by The Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, provides access to abstracts from published studies that have measured the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence. To be included in the database, studies must have measured the impact of interventions directly on violence. Studies have been selected through a systematic review of published academic literature. The abstracts can be searched by violence type, keywords, and geographical area of implementation.
- World Report on Violence and Health [PDF 176 KB]
This report is the first comprehensive review of violence on a global scale. Chapter 3 provides detailed information on child maltreatment, including prevention strategies.
- Developing and Sustaining Prevention Programs
The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources on developing a prevention program, conducting a community needs assessment, funding, collaborating, evaluating program effectiveness, and building community support.
- CDC's Extramural Research Program
CDC funds universities, medical centers and other outside organizations to conduct research related to child maltreatment prevention.
- Preventing Child Maltreatment: Program Activities Guide [PDF 303 KB]
This guide describes CDC's public health activities and research to prevent child maltreatment.
Olds DL, Eckenrode J, Henderson CR, Kitzman H, Powers J, Cole R, et al. Long-term effects of home visitation on maternal life course and child abuse and neglect: Fifteen-year follow-up of a randomized trial. JAMA1997;278(8): 637–643.
Prinz RJ, Sanders MR, Shapiro CJ, Whitaker DJ, Lutzker JR. Population-based prevention of child maltreatment: The U.S. Triple P System Population Trial. Prevention Science 2009;10(1):1–12.
Reynolds AJ, Robertson DL. School-based early intervention and later child maltreatment in the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Child Development 2003;74(1):3–26.
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