How Can I Help Prevent Child Abuse Before it Happens?

By state law, Child Protective Services (CPS) is responsible for the secondary prevention of child abuse and neglect. That’s because their legal authority to go into a home and investigate begins only when there is a reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect has already happened. CPS’s role is to provide immediate protection of the child, if needed, and services to keep the abuse from happening again or getting worse.

Primary prevention means doing something to prevent child abuse and neglect before it happens. Many mandated reporters think the CPS Team provides primary prevention. This leads to many calls that can’t be registered and frustration for reporters and CPS staff alike.

As a health care provider, human service provider, educator, law enforcement officer, or child care provider, you are responsible for the primary prevention of child abuse or neglect. Even when your call can’t be registered, there is always something you can do to help the child and family.

Abuse or neglect are more likely to happen when families are under stress. In your professional role, you can help families reduce their stress and thus reduce the chance of abuse. Remember that in providing support to a parent, family member, or caregiver, you are providing primary prevention for the child. You can learn when and how to use materials or call in the many other resources in this community to help families and children. You can develop a working partnership with the CPS Team to enhance both primary and secondary prevention of child abuse and neglect in our community. Click on the sidebar questions to find out how to prevent child abuse & neglect before it happens.