Stopping Child Maltreatment before it happens
The children at the greatest risk for maltreatment and related fatality are aged 0-3 years and share the distinctive characteristic of potential lack of visibility to the most common types of mandatory reporters such as teachers, medical professionals, and law enforcement before they sustain harm.
Indeed, approximately half of infants and children who die from child maltreatment are not known to child protection agencies before their deaths occur.
Children who survive abuse, neglect, and adversity in early childhood often suffer a lifetime of physical, mental, educational, and social health problems.
Long-term outcomes include shorter life expectancy, chronic disease and disability, obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, risk of intimate partner and sexual violence, depression and anxiety, suicidality, sexually transmitted infections, unintended and teenage pregnancies, low birth weight and fetal death, psychological disorders, and risk of aggressive and/or criminal behavior.
Efforts to stop child maltreatment must focus on a preemptive approach.
According to the 2016 final report of the Presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, strategies for prevention of child maltreatment, related fatality, and the host of sequelae is at a crossroads.
Communities across the nation are challenged to reliably prevent child abuse and neglect, related fatality, recurrence of abuse and neglect, or keep a child safe while in foster or kinship care.
They do not know if expensive social resources are being allocated to the people who need them most, or if the services provided are effective in improving objective measures of child health and safety.