Two loving parents spending quality time with their son at home in the kitchen.

Prevention is when we go upstream and work to keep kids safe and families strong before abuse or neglect. There is a lot of proven know-how behind how and why we do our work.

Protective factors prevent abuse and neglect

Key factors build protections for families and serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children. They help families connect to resources, supports and coping strategies so that they can parent more effectively, even under stress.

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children

More about protective factors

Excited african american dad watching daughter taking muffins out of oven

Understanding adverse childhood experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that occur in a child’s life prior to the age of 18. This adversity can harm a child’s brain and its development, which can result in long-term negative health and social outcomes. ACEs include emotional, physical and sexual abuse; domestic violence; substance use and mental illness of someone in the household; being separated from parents, including incarceration and divorce; food insecurity; and homelessness.

Learn about the original ACE study

Know your ACE score

Fast facts on ACEs from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

South Carolina Adverse Childhood Initiative

Young girl smelling a flower.

Understanding child abuse and neglect and how to recognize it

Child abuse generally includes physical, sexual and psychological harm. Neglect is the failure to provide basic needs or the failure to protect a child including physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical and dental neglect, educational neglect, inadequate supervision or exposing a child to a violent environment.

Little African-american boy building a small house with colorful wooden blocks in the living room at home
Recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect
Know what to look for
Upset young woman talking on her phone
Reporting abuse and neglect
Who to contact to make a report

Safe, stable and nurturing environments so that every child can thrive

Building safe, stable nurturing environments for all children is at the heart of our prevention strategy, which is why we support neighborhood and community work across the state. We work to raise awareness and the commitment to helping all children thrive. We use data to inform our work. We provide parenting programs and encourage help-seeking behaviors. We also want to make sure that we have policies and programs available that will positively impact the lives of children and families in our state.

Happy African American family enjoying in conversation while eating breakfast together at dining table
Essentials for Childhood

Young children experience their world through their relationships with parents and other caregivers. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are essential to preventing child abuse and neglect.

Strategies to help communities where every child can thrive
Positive childhood experiences research brief.
Positive childhood experiences in South Carolina

Learn how to help young people build positive experiences that build resilience and counteract ACEs

Positive childhood experiences in South Carolina (PDF)

Working at all levels and for all children

We focus on the well-being of all South Carolina children. Too many children suffer from a scarcity of resources and opportunity based on their skin color, zip code, family status and other factors beyond their control. We work to ensure that all families and children have what they need to succeed and thrive. Children live within a family, that has friends and are part of a community. That community will have organizations that serve families and children. All operate under the policies, practices and laws of our society and state. We have to work at each of these levels – individual, relationship, community and societal – to reduce child abuse and neglect.

The Social Ecological Model

Exploring the interplay between individuals, community and society to better understand how factors at one level including factors at another.

Learn about the social ecological model

Social Ecological Model