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Child neglect happens to be the most common form of child maltreatment, and sometimes the most overlooked.Child abuse and child neglect both share some common traits.
Resilience refers to the ability of a child to cope and even thrive despite being exposed to negative experiences (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008; Hunter, 2012).
When a child who has experienced abuse or neglect has few protective factors (such as positive relationships with extended family and friends), the risk of more serious adverse outcomes increases.
The five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect are physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse, and witnessing family violence.
For more information on the definitions of child abuse and neglect see Not all children exposed to similar experiences of abuse and neglect are affected in the same way.
Risk factors that may contribute to poorer outcomes for children exposed to abuse and neglect include socio-economic disadvantage, social isolation, living in dangerous neighbourhoods, large families, a caregiver with depression or alcohol or drug dependence, and whether the child has a disability (Dubowitz & Bennett, 2007; Jaffee & Maikovich-Fong, 2011).
Factors that contribute to a child's resilience include child attributes (e.g., self-esteem and independence), features of the family environment (e.g., parenting quality), and extra-familial and community resources (e.g., high quality peer relationships and school environment) (Haskett et al., 2006; Hunter, 2012).
Further to this, other forms of victimisation such as bullying or assault by a peer have often been found to co-occur with child maltreatment (known as poly-victimisation) (Finkelhor, Ormrod, & Turner, 2006).
Research indicates that those who experience multi-type maltreatment and/or poly-victimisation are more likely to experience high levels of trauma symptoms and worse outcomes than those who are exposed to no maltreatment or only one type (Finkelhor et al., 2006; Higgins & Mc Cabe, 2001).
Complex trauma affects the developing brain and may interfere with a child's capacity to integrate sensory, emotional and cognitive information, which may lead to over-reactive responses to subsequent stress and long-term effects such as cognitive, behavioural, physical and mental health problems (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child [NSCDC], 2007; Perry, 2001; Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000).
For further details on chronic maltreatment, the interrelatedness of sub-types of child abuse and neglect, and complex trauma, see Trauma caused by experiences of child abuse and neglect appears to have serious effects on the developing brain (Mc Crory, De Brito, & Viding, 2010; Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000).