Predicting child abuse requires a multisided approach and more study is needed to establish causal relationships, though with proper and thorough evaluation of indicators and risk factors, as many as 75% of the child abuse that occurs within the first two years of birth may be identifiable at birth (Epstein, 2001).
Risk factors that indicate increased incidence of abuse can be child factors, family factors, and social and environmental factors. (NCCANI, 2005) Family factors include poverty, substance abuse, history of domestic violence, and level of parental competency. Children who reside in a single parent home without the support of the absent parent are at greater risk than those that reside with two married parents (Bethea, 1999). Single parenting contributes to the likelihood that the child will be in a socio-economic disadvantaged situation which correlates to increased rates of abuse. Care must be taken when evaluating the effects of poverty on the risk factors for abuse. Outside influences associated with poverty may have a greater influence than the economic disadvantage itself. ...
This may be directly related to the diminished mental capacity of the parent while intoxicated, or it may be a reflection of other factors. Parents who have previously been victims of child abuse have a greater risk of becoming a victimizer. This same set of parents also has an increased risk of alcohol and drug use. Substance dependency by the father may create negative attitudes toward the pregnancy and signal that the child is at greater risk (Epstein, 2001). Substance abuse is also correlated in homes that have a history of mental problems, inadequate parenting skills, and previous trauma. Research directly linking substance and alcohol abuse to child abuse is inconclusive and few studies have been undertaken to establish this link (NCCANI, 2005). However, when taken into context with other risk factors, it can be useful as an indication for risk.
Other factors that signal an increased risk of abuse by the family are involvement with probation or jail, age of the mother, and number of small children in the home. Positive family factors that reduce the risk of abuse should also be evaluated. A stable home environment with two married parents, household rules, and prenatal education are indicators that reduce the risk of child abuse occurring in the home (WHO, 2006).
When measuring risk it is important to consider the child's role in abuse. Younger children are more likely to experience neglect and physical abuse while older children are at greater risk for sexual abuse (NCCANI, 2005). Evaluation of the child's condition can also aid in predicting a situation that poses a greater risk for abuse. Premature birth, handicaps, attention disorders, and behavior problems correlate to an