Child Abuse Prevention Fundamentals (cont.)
What are the different types of prevention activities?
Child abuse and neglect prevention activities generally occur at three
basic levels that reflect the audience targeted to receive the service:
Examples of each type of prevention activity are described below.
- Primary prevention activities are directed at the general population
with the goal of stopping the occurrence of maltreatment before it
- Secondary prevention activities target families at high risk of
maltreatment to alleviate conditions associated with the problem.
- Tertiary prevention directs services to families where maltreatment
has occurred to reduce the negative consequences of the maltreatment and
to prevent its recurrence.
Primary prevention activities raise the awareness of the general public,
service providers, and decision makers about the scope and problems
associated with child maltreatment. Primary prevention activities may
Primary prevention programs are particularly popular during April, which
is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
- Public service announcements on the radio or television encouraging
parents to use nonviolent forms of discipline
- Parent education programs teaching parents age-appropriate
- Public awareness campaigns informing citizens how and where to report
suspected child abuse and neglect.
Secondary prevention activities focus efforts and resources on children
and families known to be at higher risk for maltreatment. Several risk
factors such as substance abuse, young maternal age, developmental
disabilities, and poverty are associated with child maltreatment. Programs
may direct services to communities or neighborhoods that have a high
incidence of any or all of these risk factors. Examples of secondary
prevention programs include:
Full-service schools, or schools that offer a variety of social services
in highly stressed neighborhoods, also provide secondary prevention
- Parent education programs located in high schools for teen mothers
- Substance abuse treatment programs for mothers and families with
- Respite care for families who have children with special needs
- Family resource centers offering information and referral services to
families living in low-income neighborhoods.
Tertiary prevention activities focus efforts on families where abuse
and/or neglect has already occurred. The goal of these programs is to
prevent maltreatment from recurring and to reduce the negative
consequences associated with maltreatment (e.g., social-emotional problems
in children, lower academic achievement, decreased family functioning).
These prevention programs may include services such as:
Primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention services are necessary for
any community to provide a full continuum of services that decrease the
devastating effects of child maltreatment.
- Intensive family preservation services with trained mental health
counselors available to families 24 hours per day for a short period of
time (e.g, 6-8 weeks)
- Parent mentor programs with stable, nonabusive families acting as "role
models" and providing support to families in crisis
- Mental health services for children and families affected by
maltreatment to improve family communication and functioning.
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and the Law