The abuse and neglect of children is best stopped before it happens. As the familiar saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good prevention:

  1. Strengthens families.
  2. Supports child development.
  3. Creates social change.

Primary Prevention

Primary prevention is about preventing abuse or neglect of children before it occurs. 

Secondary Prevention

Secondary prevention addresses risks among specific groups to prevent child abuse or neglect before it occurs. 

Tertiary Prevention

Tertiary prevention seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect from happening again in families where it has already occurred.

How Does Prevention Work?

Level of PreventionFocus of PreventionGoals of PreventionStrategies of Prevention
Primary Prevention
  • The community at large.
  • Preventing about or neglect of children before it occurs.
  1. Increase knowledge of how children develop and what to expect at each stage.
  2. Enhance bonding and communication.
  3. Increase stress management skills.
  4. Increase knowledge about managing homes and families.
  5. Reduce the burden of child care.
  6. Increase access to social and health-care services.
  1. Programs that help new and expecting parents prepare for challenges of child rearing.
  2. Programs that educate parents about child care and child development.
  3. Child care opportunities for those who work outside the home or need respite.
  4. Programs that teach children how to protect themselves from abuse.
  5. Life-skills training that helps children and young adults learn communication skills.
  6. Self-help groups, peer-support systems, and other neighborhood programs to reduce isolation.
  7. 24-hour crisis care programs that offer a telephone helpline, childcare support, counseling.
Secondary Prevention
  • Specific groups who might be at risk for abuse or neglect of their children.
  • Addresses risks among specific groups to prevent child abuse or neglect before it occurs.
  1. Increase parents’ knowledge and understanding of how their life experience influences their parenting skills and strategies.
  2. Enhance bonding and communication between at-risk parents and their children.
  3. Increase the connection between at-risk parents and resources or services in the community.
  4. Increase parents’ skills in coping with the stresses of caring for children with special needs.
  5. Increase access to social and health-care services for all community members.
  1. Parenting education programs available to parents who are known to their local departments of social or human services as being at risk for child maltreatment.
  2. Programs that educate parents about interacting with community resources.
  3. Referrals for parents to address depression, substance abuse, or other mental health challenges.
  4. Crisis care nurseries or respite care.
  5. Connection for parents with other parents in their community through support groups and other peer-support systems, such as mentoring families and home visiting.
  6. Programs that educate parents about child care and child development.
  7. Parent education classes aimed at teen mothers and fathers.
Tertiary Prevention
  • Families and children who have already experienced child abuse or neglect.
  • Seeks to prevent child abuse or neglect from happening again in families where is has already occurred.
  1. Decrease the likelihood of a recurrence of child abuse or neglect.
  2. Decrease the abuse of substances within the family, if applicable.
  3. Increase the connection of families to other families through support groups and other peer-support systems.
  4. Increase the connection between parents and resources or services in the community.
  1. Rehabilitation of parents who have abused by providing intensive treatment or therapy.
  2. Intensive treatment or therapy for children who have been abused.
  3. Referrals for parents to address depression, substance abuse, or other mental health challenges.
  4. Foster care.
  5. Kinship care – care provided by a relative or a nonrelative who has an existing relationship with the child, such as a teacher or neighbor.

Special thanks to the Colorado Children's Trust Fund for information.