Common Protective Factors for Child Abuse and Neglect
The following set of protective factors was adapted from the Washington Council on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. It is organized in five broad protective constructs considered key in prevention and describes the types of prevention program activities that promote the protective factors:
- Nurturing and Attachment
Activities that increase the quality of nurturing and attachment include those that teach parents and caregivers to respond appropriately to the basic needs of their babies and young children, to learn ways to stimulate healthy brain development and develop a positive and secure attachment with their child. Examples include: holding a baby, infant massage, listening to and differentiating their cries and other forms of communication, play with, cuddling, and touching babies and young children, choosing appropriate toys, keeping a safe home environment, understanding sleep needs, attending to routine health needs and knowing when to seek help for serious health concerns, etc.
- Parental Resilience
Activities for increasing parental resilience include those that teach parents and caregivers skills for managing both crisis and the everyday challenges of family life, activities that address the physical, emotional and cognitive impacts of stress, and activities that develop skills in daily family life management and economic self-sufficiency. These include services designed to assist participants to effectively manage time, and increase family stability by learning skills such as budgeting and family income management, economical and healthy meal preparation, finding adequate housing, child care, applying for financial assistance, vocational training, job interview preparation, resume development, employment seeking skill development, and vocational and career assessmentand advancement.
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
Activities that increase knowledge of parenting and child development include group or individual programs (such as home visiting) that teach parents and caregivers the usual steps in their child's development, how to recognize if their child needs special help and how to promote healthy development. Additionally, the activities should include activities that enable parents to learn developmentally-appropriate and culturally-relevant discipline and guidance methods.
- Social Connections
Activities that reduce social isolation and assure families the ability to access needed informal resources are those that give parents opportunities to engage with others in a socially acceptable/positive manner and develop informal relationships with others who are caring for children.
- Concrete Supports in Times of Need
Activities that assist families to receive concrete supports in times of need are those that reduce social isolation and provide the necessary information, referrals and supports for families to access needed formal community resources.
Other Protective Factors
Characteristics possessed by the child can also play a role in protection. Below are factors that, when present, tend to decrease likelihood of maltreatment.
- Good health, history of adequate development
- Above-average intelligence
- Hobbies and interests
- Good peer relationships
- Personality factors
- Easy temperament
- Positive disposition
- Active coping style
- Positive self-esteem
- Good social skills
- Internal locus of control
- Balance between help seeking and autonomy
*Please note that this is not an all-inclusive or exhaustive list. These factors do not imply causality and should not be interpreted as such.