Achieving Comprehensive Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

Heather J. Risser*, Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Elba Jung Karim, Alexandra E. Morford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The United States has developed a comprehensive array of child abuse and neglect (CAN) prevention resources and has allocated funding to provide these resources. Policy makers, practitioners, and advocates are committed to CAN prevention. However, the current paradigm used to prevent CAN is inadequate for four reasons. First, system-level policies and infrastructure are not fully aligned with children’s needs for a safe and stable upbringing. Second, access to effective CAN prevention resources is not ubiquitous. Third, most people do not have clear roles in preventing CAN in their everyday lives. Fourth, fear of stigma prevents caregivers from seeking support and accessing services. We must shift the paradigm so that all policies promote child well-being, every family has equitable access to all opportunities, and every individual feels entitled to advocate for and engage in CAN prevention. By embedding an adapted Health Belief Model (aHBM) into an ecological model, we can improve policies, behaviors, and beliefs at all levels of the social ecology in order to shift the paradigm. In order to scale knowledge and advocacy for preventing CAN to the population, we propose a strategy that increases system collaboration, leverages existing infrastructure, and adopts multi-source funding models that invest in prevention services to inoculate society against CAN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Child abuse prevention
  • Child and family policy
  • Child maltreatment prevention
  • Child neglect prevention
  • Child well-being promotion
  • Collaborative care
  • Health promotion
  • Integrated care
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law


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