There is no easy answer to this question, because many factors are involved. However, child abuse is most likely to occur when parents are struggling with:
Stress…Pressures from money problems, everyday frustrations, illness or heavy responsibilities.
A painful childhood…Adults who were mistreated as children may, without meaning to, continue the pattern of abuse with their own children.
Alcohol or other drugs…can blind a parent to a child’s needs or may reduce inhibitions and tolerance levels so that parents may be more likely to lash out.
Isolation…Without friends or relatives nearby, parents can feel overwhelmed by the demands of raising a child.
Inexperience with children or unrealistic expectations…If parents don’t know what to expect from children, they may expect too much. Besides lacking the parenting skills necessary to raise a child, the parents may have no models of successful family relationships from which to learn.
Immaturity…Very young, insecure parents often can’t understand their child’s behavior and needs.
Unmet emotional needs…Parents may expect children to take care of them and to satisfy their need for love, protection and self-esteem.