Not all child abuse is deliberate or intended. Several factors may combine to cause a person to abuse a child such as:

  • Stress (including the stress of caring for children, or the stress of caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors)
  • Lack of nurturing qualities necessary for caring for a child
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Personal history of being abused
  • Isolation from the family or community
  • Physical or mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Personal problems such as marital conflict, unemployment, or financial difficulties

Many forms of child abuse arise from ignorance, isolation, or benign neglect. Abuse also tends to be intergenerational – those who were abused as children are more likely to repeat the act when they become parents or caretakers.