CHILD MALTREATMENT STATISTICS IN THE U.S.

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National Child Abuse Statistics

  • 4.1 million child maltreatment referral reports received.1
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.4 million children.1
  • 3.5 million children received prevention & post-response services.1
  • 143,866 children received foster care services.1
  • 74.8% of victims are neglected.1
  • 18.2% of victims are physically abused.1
  • 8.5% of victims are sexually abused.1
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.1
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under age one (24.8% per 1,000).1
  • Over one-quarter (28.5%) of victims are younger than 3 years.1
  • Annual estimate: 1,750 children died from abuse and neglect in 2016.1,
  • Almost five children die every day from child abuse.1,2
  • 78.0% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.1
  • 70.0% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.1
  • 74.6% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.1
  • 44.2% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.1
  • 49.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.1
  • Boys had a higher child fatality rate than girls (2.87 boys & 2.11 girls per 100,000)1
  • Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.1
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.6
  • Estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.5
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.1

Who abused and neglected children? 

  • 83.4% (More than four-fifths) of perpetrators were between the ages of 18 and 44 years.1
  • 53.7% (More than one-half) of perpetrators were women, 45.3 % of perpetrators were men, and 1.0 % were of unknown sex.1

Graph - Child Victims By Age:

Child Abuse Statistics - 2015 Child Maltreatment Report Victims by Age

Child Abuse Statistics Graph – The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. 52 states reported that most victims were younger than 3 years. The victimization rate was highest for children younger than one year of age.
Consequences & Risk Factors of Child Abuse American SPCC The Naton's Vocie for Children

Consequences & Risk Factors

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.6
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk taking behaviors, putting them at greater risk for STDs.6
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.7
  • In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.13
  • The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States is estimated at $585 billion.8
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences 

Effects of Parental Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Drug/alcohol abuse by parents and caregivers has an effect on children, often resulting in neglect of the children and threatened abuse.

Drug abuse is non-discriminate, affecting all socioeconomic groups and people from all walks of life. Tolerance and dependency on drugs can develop quickly, without the user even realizing that addiction is taking hold. The pattern of abuse and addiction can be extremely difficult to stop.

  • Alcohol abuse (parent/caregiver)—the compulsive use of alcohol that is not of a temporary nature.1
  • Drug abuse (parent/caregiver)—the compulsive use of drugs that is not of a temporary nature.1
  • Domestic violence (parent/caregiver)–abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another.1

When you recognize that someone has a problem, it’s essential to seek help right away.

Impact of Parent Drug & Alcohol Abuse on Children American SPCC

Impact of Drug & Alcohol Abuse on Children

  • 1/3 to 2/3 of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.11
  • 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.11
  • Two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused or neglected as children.9
  • 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.14
  • 11.5% of children have a parent/caregiver alcohol abuse risk factor.1
  • 28.5% of children have a parent/caregiver drug abuse risk factor.1
  • 25.0% – 33.2% of children have a domestic violence abuse risk factor.1

Opioid Crisis & Effects on Children

Parental opioid and other substance abuse can have a devastating impact 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.

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.

Neglect, the finding in 61 percent of child maltreatment cases and the leading reason for foster care entry, is also often a result of substance abuse.

Child Abuse & Criminal Behavior

  • 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. 8
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are approximately 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. 6
Criminal Effects of Child Abuse American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

It is easy to read statistics without grasping the human suffering behind the numbers. Each number represents a child’s life. Each human life touches hundreds of others. The ramifications of child abuse and neglect are exponential.

JOIN US as we use our voices against abuse, neglect, and injustice!

Join the conversation on our Community & Support forum.

A better future starts right here.

Types of Child Abuse

Child Neglect

Child Neglect is Child Abuse - American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Physical Abuse

Physical-Child-Abuse-American-SPCC-The-Nation's-Voice-for-Children

Emotional Abuse

Emotional-Abuse-is-Child-Abuse-American-SPCC-The-Nation's-Voice-for-Children

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Child Abuse - American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Childhood Experiences

Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-ACEs Child Abuse American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is Child Abuse American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Trafficking & Exploitation

Trafficking and Child Exploitation American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children
Click for References & Sources
  1. Child Maltreatment 2016. Published: February 2018. An office of the Administration for Children & Families, a division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This report presents national data about child abuse and neglect known to child protective services agencies in the United States during federal fiscal year 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2018
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2013). Child Maltreatment 2012. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment
  3. United States Government Accountability Office, 2011. Child maltreatment: strengthening national data on child fatalities could aid in prevention (GAO-11-599). Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11599.pdf
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau. Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities 2011: Statistics and Interventions. Retrieved from: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/fatality.pdf
  5. Snyder, Howard, N. (2000, July). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: victim, incident, and offender characteristics. Retrieved from:  https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf
  6. Long – Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm
  7. Fang, X., et al. The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect (2012), doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.10.006 Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213411003140
  8. Harlow, C. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (1999).Prior abuse reported by inmates and probationers (NCJ 172879) Retrieved from: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/parip.pdf
  9. Swan, N. (1998). Exploring the role of child abuse on later drug abuse: Researchers face broad gaps in information. NIDA Notes, 13(2). Retrieved from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website: www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol13N2/exploring.html
  10. Every Child Matters Education Fund. (2012). We can do better: Child abuse deaths in America (3rd ed.). Retrieved from: http://www.everychildmatters.org/storage/documents/pdf/reports/can_report_august2012_final.pdf
  11. Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau. Goldman, J., Salus, M. K., Wolcott, D., Kennedy, K. Y. (2003) A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice, Chapter 5, Retrieved from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/foundation/
  12. Wilson, E., Dolan, M., Smith, K., Casanueva, C., & Ringeisen, H. (2012). NSCAW Child Well-Being Spotlight: Adolescents with a History of Maltreatment Have Unique Service Needs That May Affect Their Transition to Adulthood. OPRE Report #2012-49, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/youth_spotlight_v7.pdf
  13. Amy B. Silverman, Helen Z. Reinherz, Rose M. Giaconia, The long-term sequelae of child and adolescent abuse: A longitudinal community study, Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 20, Issue 8, August 1996, Pages 709-723. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213496000592
  14. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health, Behavioral Consequences of Child Abuse. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743691/

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