Early experiences powerfully shape the developing brain and can have both immediate and lifelong impact on health and well-being. All areas of development are closely intertwined in the early years, so physical harm can damage emotional, social, cognitive and language development. Younger children make up a larger proportion of abuse and neglect victims than do older children, and are most likely to experience serious harm and longer foster care placement. Young children can recover from early maltreatment due to the rapidity of early development and the capacity of the growing brain to respond to new experiences. With early support and intervention maltreated infants and toddlers healthy development can be restored.
Reports Highlight Impact of Maltreatment on the Youngest Children - Recent reports released by the federal government emphasize the impact of child abuse and neglect on the youngest babies. ZERO TO THREE projects and resources address the importance of promoting healthy development for all babies and toddlers, preventing maltreatment for those who may be at increased risk, and intervening effectively when young children enter the foster care system.
A Better Start: Child Maltreatment Prevention as a Public Health Priority - Child abuse prevention programs have historically focused on individual and family dynamics rather than community-based or societal strategies to prevent child maltreatment. Recently, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of communitywide efforts to prevent child maltreatment before abuse or neglect occurs by offering a continuum of services that promote the health of the population as a whole. The authors describe how a public health approach to child maltreatment addresses the range of conditions that place children at risk for abuse or neglect and include strategies at the individual, family, community, and societal levels to promote health and well-being.