Child Maltreatment Statistics

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National Child Maltreatment Statistics

The statistics of child maltreatment and neglect show the severity of the problem.

  • 4.4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.9 million children.
  • 91.4% of victims are maltreated by one or both parents.
  • Only 3.4 million children received prevention & post-response services.
  • 142,056 children received foster care services.
  • 491,710 victims (74.9%) are neglected.
  • 115,100 victims (17.5%) are physically abused.
  • 60,927 victims (9.3%) are sexually abused.
  • 39,824 victims (6.1%) are psychologically maltreated.
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under age one (25.7 per 1,000).
  • Annual estimate: 1,840 children died from abuse and neglect in 2019.
  • Five children die every day from child abuse.
  • Seventy (70.3%) percent of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years old.
  • 79.7% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
  • Of the children who died, 72.9% suffered child neglect.
  • Of the children who died, 44.4% suffered physical abuse either exclusively or in combination with another maltreatment type.

 

  • 45.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.
  • Boys had a higher child fatality rate than girls (2.98 boys & 2.20 girls per 100,000)
  • Almost 61,000 children are sexually abused.
  • 2018 was the first year for which states are reporting the new maltreatment type of sex trafficking. For 2019, 29 states report 877 unique victims of sex trafficking.
  • For victims of the sex trafficking maltreatment type, the majority (89.1%) are female and 10.4 percent are male.
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, and ethnic and cultural groups.
  • 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.
  • Children who experience child abuse and neglect are approximately 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

 

Statistics of child maltreatment and abuse chart
Upset child covering ears- child maltreatment statistics

CONSEQUENCES & RISK FACTORS

Child neglect and maltreatment are likely to create consequences for victims later in life.

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk taking behaviors, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States is estimated at $585 billion.

EFFECTS OF PARENTAL ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In 2019, the percent of victims of child maltreatment with caregivers who abused alcohol or other substances increased. There is a strong statistical link between child maltreatment and parental substance abuse.

The effects of parental alcoholism and substance abuse on children can be large and long-lasting. Drug and/or alcohol abuse by parents and caregivers can often result in neglect of the children and threatened abuse.

Learn more about substance abuse here.

Parent holding bottle- parental alcohol abuse
parent holding bottle - parental alcohol abuse

EFFECTS OF PARENTAL ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In 2019, the percent of victims of child maltreatment with caregivers who abused alcohol or other substances increased. There is a strong statistical link between child maltreatment and parental substance abuse.

The effects of parental alcoholism and substance abuse on children can be large and long-lasting. Drug and/or alcohol abuse by parents and caregivers can often result in neglect of the children and threatened abuse.

Learn more about substance abuse here.

Unhappy child sitting - effects of parental substance abuse

SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND CHILD MALTREATMENT: CONSEQUENCES & RISK FACTORS

Statistics show that a common effect of parental alcoholism and substance abuse is child maltreatment, including physical abuse and child neglect.

  • 1/3 to 2/3 of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.
  • In one study, children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs were three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.
  • Two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused or neglected as children.
  • More than a third of adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect will have a substance use disorder before their 18th birthday, three times as likely as those without a report of abuse or neglect.
  • 11.5% of children have a parent/caregiver alcohol abuse risk factor.
  • 28.5% of children have a parent/caregiver drug abuse risk factor.
  • 25.0% – 33.2% of children have a domestic violence abuse risk factor.

OPIOID CRISIS & EFFECTS OF PARENTAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE ON CHILDREN

 

The statistics of child neglect and of parental opioid and other substance abuse are inextricably linked. Parental opioid and other substance abuse can have devastating effects on children. The early trauma exposure makes children more likely to suffer mental health disorders including substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder later on in their lives. Children are often the hidden victims of our nation’s opioid epidemic.

Parental substance abuse can be a more subtle form of child maltreatment. A 2015 study from the National Institutes of Health found children exposed to opiates during pregnancy suffer from behavior and attention problems. Such children require therapy and often, specially licensed and trained foster families. States have indicated that they are struggling to recruit qualified foster families to home children with behavioral and attention issues.

The increase in the number of children in foster care occurs at the same time as the increase in the percentage of children entering foster care due to parental substance abuse. Anecdotal evidence and expert opinion link this increase to the parallel rise in parental opioid addiction and overdoses. One-third of children entering foster care in 2016 were due at least in part to parental drug abuse—an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2005.

Child neglect, which is often a result of substance abuse, is the leading reason for foster care entry. Child neglect was the finding in 61 percent of child maltreatment cases.

References & Sources
  1. Child Maltreatment 2019 Report – Children’s Bureau, An Office of the Administration for Children & Families
  2. U.S. Dept. of Justice
  3. Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D., and Craig, W. M. (2001). Peer interventions in playground bullying.  Social Development, 10, 512-527.
  4. National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, SCHOOL CRIME SUPPLEMENT, 2008–2009
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, YOUTH RISK BEHAVIOR SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM, 2011
  6. Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36 (3), 361-382.
  7. Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36 (3), 361-382.
  8. Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36 (3), 361-382.
  9. National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, SCHOOL CRIME SUPPLEMENT, 2008–2009
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, YOUTH RISK BEHAVIOR SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM, 2011.
  11. Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
  12. AT RISK GROUPS
  13. YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES

 

FEDERALLY COLLECTED DATA REPORTS

2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics).

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Child Maltreatment Statistics