Prevention Strategies

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on its victims. The goal in preventing child abuse and neglect is to stop this violence from happening in the first place.

Child abuse and neglect are complex problems rooted in unhealthy relationships and environments. Preventing child abuse and neglect requires addressing factors at all levels of the social ecology–the individual, relational, community, and societal levels.

CDC’s Technical Package for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect pdf icon[3.69 MB, 52 Pages, 508] identifies a number of strategies based on the best available evidence to help states and communities prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect. Effective prevention strategies focus on modifying policies, practices, and societal norms to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. The strategies and their corresponding approaches are presented in the table below.

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Strategy Approach
Strengthen economic supports to families
  • Strengthening household financial security
  • Family-friendly work policies
Change social norms to support parents and positive parenting
  • Public engagement and education campaigns
  • Legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment
Provide quality care and education early in life
  • Preschool enrichment with family engagement
  • Improved quality of child care through licensing and accreditation
Enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development
  • Early childhood home visitation
  • Parenting skill and family relationship approaches
Intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk
  • Enhanced primary care
  • Behavioral parent training programs
  • Treatment to lessen harms of abuse and neglect exposure
  • Treatment to prevent problem behavior and later involvement in violence


See Child Abuse and Neglect Resources for publications about strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect. 

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Page last reviewed: March 5, 2020