Prevention is the key to ending child maltreatment. Some programs are promoted as preventing maltreatment, but they have not been evaluated. However the following strategies have been found to be especially effective:
Primary prevention programs (before maltreatment occurs): include two specific home visiting programs – the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) and Early Start – that have been shown effective. Other programs that have shown promise include Triple P and hospital-based education programs to prevent abusive head trauma and enhanced paediatric care.
Prevention of recurrence programs: help parents who have abused their children to avoid doing it again (e.g., Parent-Child Interactive Therapy, which is effective in preventing recurrence of physical abuse).
Prevention of impairment programs: help the victims of abuse (e.g., cognitive-behavioural therapy). Effective in helping sexually abused children with post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Given the huge impact of abuse on a child’s development, it’s vital that we find ways to prevent maltreatment from occurring in the first place.