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).