Children and families at risk

Abuse can happen to anyone, but research shows that some children who have experienced abuse share similar characteristics. This means they may be more vulnerable.

Having one or more of these characteristics doesn’t automatically mean a child will experience abuse or neglect – and not having any of them isn’t a guarantee that a child will never be harmed.

But we do know that these challenges are often interlinked and the more problems a child and their family are experiencing, the greater the risk of abuse (Cleaver, Unell and Aldgate, 2011).

It’s important for professionals to understand risk and vulnerability factors so they can identify which families need extra support to help keep their children safe.

References: Cleaver, H., Unell, I. and Aldgate, J. (2011) Children’s needs: parenting capacity: child abuse: parental mental illness, learning disability, substance misuse, and domestic violence (PDF). London: The Stationery Office (TSO).

Domestic abuse

Explains what domestic abuse is, how to recognise it and how people who work with children can respond to it.

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Parental substance misuse

Defines alcohol and drug misuse and its effects on children. Outlines what works to support children whose parents misuse substances.

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Parental mental health problems

Explains what is meant by parental mental health problems and how they can have an impact on a child’s wellbeing. Outlines what works to support families where one or more parents/carers have a mental health problem.

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Looked after children

Sets out who looked after children are, why they may need additional help, and ways to provide them with the support they need.

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d/Deaf and disabled children

Children who have disabilities are at an increased risk of being abused compared with their non-disabled peers (Jones et al, 2012).

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