There is no single factor which has been identified as the cause of child abuse. In general, there is an interaction of multiple risk factors in the environment that place children at risk to be victims of abuse. Researchers have identified abusive parents or caregivers as having risk factors such as substance abuse, low self-esteem, mental or physical disability, depression, history of abuse as a child, poor coping skills, poor impulse control, history of violent behavior or history of being raised in a group setting with no positive parental role.
All children are potential victims of child abuse, but some factors increase the risk for a child to be abused. Children with disabilities are twice as likely to be emotionally, physically or sexually abused. Children with behavioral disorders that manifest as aggression or temper tantrums are at an increased risk to be abused. Males with mental disabilities tend to be victims of sexual assault at an older age then other children.