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5 Parent Factors that Can Increase the Risk of Child Abuse

Jun 25,2022

Child sexual abuse affects children with detrimental effects on their mental and physical health. The survivors of child sexual assault are 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse and PTSD as adults, as per RAINN's statistics. Furthermore, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under 18 years of age experience sexual assault. 

Although child sexual abuse can happen to any child, several factors can increase the risk of the crime, and the parent factor is one such in the list. Yes, parents can also, indirectly or directly, lead to a substantial upsurge in the risks of their child experiencing sexual abuse.

Adolescents living in institutional care have a higher risk of being sexually assaulted. According to a German study, adolescents from residential care and boarding schools experience lifetime sexual victimization at a rate of 46.7% for girls and 8% for boys. Childcare is not the only factor that can result in a higher level risk of child sexual assault, there are several more. 

This article will discuss 5 parent factors that result in higher risks of sexual violence among children.

Substance Use by Parents and Caregivers

Research has found links between child maltreatment and parents with substance abuse disorders. Adolescents living in families where any parent(s) suffer from substance abuse have a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. Children who grow up with parents with SUDs also bear the consequences of increased rates of child physical abuse. Moreover, studies suggest that going through substance abuse can increase the rates of physical violence by 50%. Furthermore, the connection between SUDs and IPV cannot be ignored. 40% of the families where IPV exists, children have to go through abuse. In addition, parents living with SUDs, in some cases, might as well be suffering from other mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, chronic depression, etc., which can also be the cause of child sexual abuse.

Adolescent Parenting and Child Abuse

Apart from substance abuse, another factor that can increase the abuse rates among children is adolescent parenting. Studies have demonstrated relationships between child physical/sexual abuse and parenting stress. Parenting indeed requires numerous sacrifices, and when parents are not ready or are not capable of providing their young ones with appropriate parenting, the risk of child abuse increases. Furthermore, adolescent parenting can lead to frustration, stress, and anxiety leading to child abuse. Studies concerning child maltreatment show that young mothers tend to abuse their children physically more than older mothers. Moreover, adolescent parenting can lead to lower economic status, higher stress levels, and higher drug and alcohol use, which can pose threats to children. Unemployment and high poverty levels also result in a higher risk of child abuse.

Socially Isolated Parents

Socially isolated parents who have lesser peer relationships and poor relationships with their relatives have higher tendencies to maltreat their children. Isolation from relationships can be a result of mental illnesses and can as well result in mental health problems, which can further upsurge the risks of child abuse and domestic violence in the family. On the contrary, parents who have healthy social relationships tend to show lower possibilities of abuse.

Parental Mental Health

The mental health of the parents drastically increases maltreatment among children. Studies prove that mothers with mental illnesses have a high risk of giving birth to infants with abnormalities, insecure parent-child bonding, the transmission of mental illnesses, etc., which can also cause poor self-esteem and confidence among children. Adolescents growing up with lower self-esteem and self-worth feel a greater need for love, support, and acceptance, which makes them more vulnerable to experiencing child sexual abuse. Such children tend to go through bullying and are driven toward people who offer them love, care, gifts, etc. Perpetrators are always on the lookout for such children. They primarily offer them what they are looking for and later, after breaking the barrier, move on to using them for their sexual needs.

Financial Instability

Parents' financial instability can additionally be one of the prime factors that can exacerbate the risk of child abuse. Studies have demonstrated that children living in areas with higher poverty levels have higher level of child abuse cases. Furthermore, unemployment and job uncertainty can also be the reasons for sentiments of stress and anxiety among parents, thus resulting in neglect and child abuse. Financial instability and economic dependence on relatives and friends can again be the reasons that can expose children to the risks of experiencing sexual abuse.

Apart from that, single parents or divorced parents can even pose risks for children to experience sexual abuse. Parenting comes with enormous challenges and troubles. However, a little bit of care and attention towards children can protect them from sexual violence threats. Being in conversation, noticing their behavior and habits, and monitoring their activities without invading their privacy can help you get insights into their lives and the problems that they might be facing. Victims of child abuse and other types of sexual violence are often silent people who practice isolation. However, distancing from society is never a solution. Try talking to your child and help them find professional help. 

If you or anyone you know is going through sexual violence, you must find professional help. You are not alone in your struggles, come forward and speak up!