Child Abuse and Neglect

Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse refers to the treatment of children in a malicious way that affects their physical, psychological, or sexual mistreatment and neglect of a child. The mistreatment might be from parents, caregivers, educators or any person who may be directly linked with the children.  According to Chen and Chan, (2016), child neglect is a form of abuse of children where the child’s needs such as medical care, clothing, housing, nutrition, and education are not met. The federal government refers to child neglect and abuse as a form of failure of child caregivers to act as responsible parents for the child, which results in emotional, physical and sexual exploration and abuse.

Risk Factors of Child Abuse

Child abuse can arise from a number of issues that contribute to the risk of abuse increasing. The factors can be grouped into three, that is, the parental, environmental and child factors.


The parent may have abused other children or was abused at their tender ages. The mother might not be supported and may lack enough education or may be isolated and therefore abuses the child. In addition, the pregnancy may not have been wanted or the parent may not be mentally fit.


Violence in the family, stress, poverty, overcrowding and lack of good nutrition in ma lead to child abuse (Houlgate, 2017). In addition, non-biological adults who may be living in the same house with the children may abuse these children.


The child may have development or physical disability, lack of attachment between the parent and the child, or constantly falling seek, being unwanted colicky can lead to child abuse. Also, if the child is as a result of an abusive relationship, then it is possible that the child may be abused by the parent (s).

Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse

            According to LLL, the signs and symptoms of that may suggest cases of child abuse, among others, include:

  • Slower development of their skills and abilities such as socializing and talking as compared other children of the same age.
  • Failure to gain weight and height over time.
  • Unusual parent-child relationship.
  • Emotional health issues such as low self-esteem, depression, thought of suicide, and anxiety.
  • The sudden drop in grades in school.
  • Children running away from home.
  • Signs of pain, discomfort, and fear.

Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

According to Pasalich, Cyr, Zheng, McMahon and Spieker (2016), prevention refers to the strategies and measures that can be undertaken in reducing the probability of a risk from occurring.  Some of the best ways to ensure that child abuse and neglect is curbed include:

  • Development of prevention programs and schemes
  • Promotion of the well-being of families and child-parent relationship
  • Making sure the public is aware of child abuse and that it affects the children.
  • Advocating for Psychological treatment and counseling to parents when they bear children and to those who are parents already.

Roles of Nurses in child abuse and neglect prevention


            Within the primary prevention, nurses should aim at preventing abuse before it begins by focusing on individuals from the community through expensive based projects to bring issues to the light of the issue and offer help administrations.


            Nurses advocate for prevention through the development of programs which are aimed at minimizing the incidences of child neglect and abuse through the identification of families which are likely to abuse and neglect children and giving them supportive services to help them resolve their issues (Pasalich et al., 2016).




            Here, the nurses are expected to develop frameworks in which they can identify families where child abuse has recently occurred and design plans to help the affected children and the conflicting party to resolve their problems.

Intervention, Treatment, and Reporting

            The nurses should be ready to identify any child who is has been noted to be treated in any abusive way or with neglect. After the identification, the nurses should intervene and try to help these children in overcoming and solving the abuse issue. This process will thus lead to the treatment process, which is only necessary if there is any sexual or physical abuse or malnutrition and other neglects that may need treatment. Houlgate (2017) adds that the nurses should as well report their findings on the abuse of the child to the administration and health care services for preventive measures to be made in due time to reduce additional risks for the children. Any person should report the cases of child neglect if they notice any cases. The reporting can be done to the police stations or health care centers and thus the ones who receive the information can devise plans on solving the same (Chen & Chan, 2016). One of the referral points that is within the United States is the Prevent Child Abuse America organization, which is responsible for treatment, counseling and providing care for children who have been abused.

Differences between child abuse and child neglecting

Child Abuse Child Neglecting
Physical hurting of a child Failure to provide basic needs
Resulting effects can be treated but may cause long lasting effects. Can cause long-lasting effects on the child
Exist in three categories: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Exist in four categories; physical, emotional, educational, and environmental neglect.
Examples include; sexual abuse, slapping, isolation, and threats. Examples include poor nutrition and lack of education.

Reporting of the cases should be similar since the cases affect children and may result in unwanted cases. According to Briere, Runtz, Eadie, Bigras and Godbout (2017), the types of abuse cannot be defined in the same way but their reporting systems should be similar. Therefore, many resources are available for the different types of abuse, which may include non-governmental aid, hospital care and the government and the police. The community nursing changes at every level of nursing prevention depending on the type of abuse. The nurses are expected to be more concerned with the community around those children being affected by abuse cases and with parents for the cases where neglect is noted.


In conclusion, the nurses play an important role in preventing child neglect and abuse. This is because it is their responsibility and mandate to ensure children have good security, health and physical and hence the nurses must ensure that children are not abused. The nurses are expected to report any cases of neglect to the administration for proper action to be undertaken in the event of reducing the associated risks arising from child abuse and neglect. As such, it is imperative to ensure the children are protected and the parents and caregivers have the necessary information on how to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect.


Briere, J., Runtz, M., Eadie, E., Bigras, N., & Godbout, N. (2017). Disengaged parenting: structural equation modeling with child abuse, insecure attachment, and adult symptomatology. Child Abuse & Neglect67, 260-270.

Chen, M., & Chan, K. L. (2016). Parental absence, child victimization, and psychological well-being in rural China. Child Abuse & Neglect59, 45-54.

Houlgate, L. D. (2017). Child Abuse and Neglect. In Philosophy, Law and the Family (pp. 127-141). Springer International Publishing.

Pasalich, D. S., Cyr, M., Zheng, Y., McMahon, R. J., & Spieker, S. J. (2016). Child abuse history in teen mothers and parent–child risk processes for offspring externalizing problems. Child abuse & neglect56, 89-98.

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