Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

Image of a father reading to his son

At least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect. Children under the age of 18 years may be exposed to abuse and neglect by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role, such as a religious leader, coach, or teacher. There are four common types of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, as well as lifelong health and opportunity. CDC’s research and programs work to understand the problems of child abuse and neglect and prevent them.

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) provides critical funding and technical assistance to states to address public health issues such as child abuse and neglect through its Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program (Core SVIPP). This program helps strengthen state capacity to collect and use data to better understand the local injury environment and challenges, plan injury prevention efforts, and carryout and evaluate life-saving interventions for residents. Currently, CDC’s Injury Center funds 23 state health departments as part of Core SVIPP.

Putting Strategies to Work to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

One of the best ways states can enhance child abuse and neglect prevention is to identify and implement evidence-based policies, practices, and strategies. Examples of strategies used by states funded through CDC’s Core SVIPP program include:

States in Action

Oklahoma and Wisconsin have directed their Core SVIPP funding toward protecting residents from child abuse and neglect.

Oklahoma Fighting Infant Mortality

Oklahoma has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. The Oklahoma State Health Department issued a statewide call to action describing the Period of PURPLE Crying program and asking individuals who knit or crochet to donate purple baby caps for the program. The call to action went viral, sweeping headlines on both traditional news and social media outlets around the world. The post not only began a crucial conversation about abusive head trauma prevention on a global scale but also enabled a substantial increase in program capacity. The Oklahoma State Health Department received 69,914 donated purple baby caps from 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and, and multiple countries across Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. The program received enough caps to meet its goal sixteen times over and to supply 82% of the states’ birthing hospitals. Each baby born was given a purple cap to promote this initiative.

Wisconsin Launches Triple P Classes for Incarcerated Women

Having a parent who is in jail is an adverse childhood experience that places children at higher risk for a broad range of poor social, emotional, and physical health outcomes including injury and violence. Wisconsin’s Core SVIPP program wanted to mitigate the effect of parental incarceration and partnered with the state Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to pilot a series of Triple P Positive Parenting Program classes for incarcerated women who planned to resume custody of their children upon release.

The Triple P Positive Parenting Program provides classes to build positive parenting skills and increase family support and connectedness, helping increase families’ resilience to multiple forms of violence, including child abuse, neglect and suicidal behavior, and decrease rates of losing custodial rights. When released from incarceration, women are at higher risk of returning to jail if they lose custody of their children. The Triple P pilot, which is not typically delivered in incarcerated settings, focused on strengthening parenting skills, as well as reducing recidivism and re-incarceration.

The short-term outcome of the pilot project was the establishment of a relationship between the service provider, the re-entry facility, and the Department of Corrections – where no relationship had existed before. Incarcerated and soon-to-be released women have an interest in parenting education and support classes, and several Departments of Correction and county detention facilities have been willing to allow service provider’s access to female inmates to provide the Triple P parenting classes. There are multiple locations supporting the delivery of Triple P classes to incarcerated women. Triple P International and regional staff are interested in the model and are working with providers to adjust the training guidelines. Triple P International is also interested in chairing a national work group to pursue the revision/adaptation of the Triple P parenting classes.