Statistics and facts on child abuse in America

It is easy to read statisticswithout grasping the human suffering behind the numbers. Each number represents a human life. Each life touches hundreds of other lives. The ramifications of child abuse and neglect are exponential. Whether you realize it or not, you and everyone you know is affected by this issue. Please work with us to reduce these very sobering numbers.
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
Five children die everyday as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of four.
It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to child maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
36% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
Over 66.7% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a children.
About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the tragic cycle of suffering.
About 80% of twenty-one-year-old young adults who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.
Despite these statistics, the rate of child abuse in the United States is continuing to increase. American SPCC needs your involvement to help prevent and reduce these alarming rates of abuse.
The statistics used below are from the following sources that can be viewed by clicking here.
National Overview Every six seconds a child is abused. In 2009, there were 21 substantiated child maltreatment reports per 1,000 children under the age of 1 in the United States. Overall, abuse cases were 17.6 % physical, 78.3% neglect, 2.4% medical, 9.2% sexual, 8.1% psychological, 10.3% other and 0.3% unknown.
Child Fatalities
“[A] nationally estimated 1,560 children…died from abuse and neglect, [which is a rate of 2.07 per 100,000 children].” In the U.S., 5 children die each day from abuse or neglect, and more than 3 out of 4 are under the age of 4.
Younger children are the most vulnerable. One-third of abused children were under 4 years of age and one-fifth 4-7 years. Children under 1 had the highest victimization rate at 20.6 per 1,000 children of that age. Typically, the higher the age, the lower the rate of victimization. Regarding race/ethnicity, child abuse and neglect occurs most among White (44.8%), African-American (21.9%) and Hispanic (21.4%).
Statistics continue to show that a child abuse victim is at high risk of suffering repeated abuse or neglect. Through the Child and Family Services Review, the Children’s Bureau has established the current national standard for recurrence as 94.6%.
30% of U.S. students in grades 6 through 10 are involved in bullying as bullies, victims, or both. 1 out of 4 kids are bullied in this country every month, more than 43% of middle schools students (grade 6-8) have threatened to harm another student, children who bully by age 8 are 4 times as likely to have a criminal record by age 30, and it is estimated 160,000 American children miss school every day due to fear of bullying.
Long-term Consequences
Studies have found abused and neglected children to be at least 25% more likely to experience problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, drug use and mental health problems. One study showed that by age 21, as many as 80% of the abused met diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics has reported that 10% of men and 50% of women who were incarcerated have been physically or sexually abused as a child. In addition, about 12% of those in jail have lived in a foster home or institution. A national Institute of Justice Study observed that “abused and neglected children were 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior as a juvenile, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for one of many forms of violent crime.”
Cycle of Abuse
It is estimated that about 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.
Frequently, perpetrators were themselves abused as children. They learned unhealthy ways of interacting with others, of exerting power and control, and of disciplining children. This dynamic is responsible for the cycle of abuse in which victims of abuse feel a powerful compulsion to relive trauma they suffered. In other words, in an effort to seek a sense of control over the abuse endured as children, some victims become perpetrators. And some victims will inflict the abuse upon themselves or instigate others to inflict it upon them.
Financial Cost of Abuse and Neglect
The estimated financial cost of child abuse and its related consequences is $93 billion per year. $24 billion of that are direct costs associated with maintaining a child welfare system to investigate claims of child abuse and neglect, expenditures by the judicial, law enforcement, health, and mental health systems. Indirect costs are $69 billion and are associated with juvenile and adult criminal activity, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
For additional information by state, click on the following PDF.
Child Maltreatment 2009
Author(s): United States. Children’s Bureau
Availability: Download (PDF – 3,972KB)
Year Published: 2010 – 227 pages
This report summarizes child abuse statistics submitted by states to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) during 2009. See a list of all Child Maltreatment Reports. The data are presented in aggregate and by state, and trends are reported when available. Topics include sources of reports; time for response; victimization rates; types of maltreatment; age, race and gender of victims; age and gender of perpetrators; relationship of perpetrators to the victim; number of child fatalities; types of services provided; and additional research related to child maltreatment.
National Incidence Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS)
Addresses a congressionally mandated, periodic research effort to assess the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the United States. This webpage provides information and reports from the four NIS studies.
Child Welfare Outcomes Report Data
Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Features a custom report builder that offers access to the most current Child Welfare Outcomes data before the full report is published. The website provides information on the performance of States in seven outcome categories as well as data on contextual factors and findings of analyses conducted across States.
Child abuse is devastating not only at the time of the abuse, but the experience haunts the abused for the rest of their life. If you would like additional detailed information, please view the following links:
Sub category:
Can you recognize warning signs or symptoms of child abuse or neglect?
You may not see physical signs of abuse, but the behavior of a child being abused may include:
• change in personality
• poor self-esteem
• change in hygiene
• increased interest and knowledge about sex
• isolation or becomes a loner
• lack dental and/or medical attention
• dirty appearance and lacks sufficient clothing for weather conditions
• stealing food or money from friends and classmates
• feeling of discomfort when around adults
• bruises, cuts, or injuries that they can’t explain
• change in their school performance
• indications that no one is at home
• overly concerned that someone may be watching him/her; fearful something bad might occur
• spending an unusual amount of time at a friends home or at school
• learning problems start to develop for no apparent reason
• scared submissive behavior around adults
• refusal to go home
• drug or alcohol use
• admits to injury by a parent or caregiver, but always follows by says it was an accident or due to playing around
• difficulty sitting or walking
• refuses to change clothes in front of others or engage in physical activities
• running away
• extreme passivity, aggression or demanding behavior
• rocking, head banging (regressive infantile behavior)
• lack of attachment to parents
If you see any of the above signs of abuse, seek help immediately. Click here to find a list of available resources
For statistics and facts related to child abuse, click here.
The “Education & Facts” section of this website contains summaries of and references to key statistics regarding child abuse and neglect.. Forum on Child and Family Statistics
U.S. Department of Health and Services: Administration for Children and Families
National Exchange Foundation Club
DreamCatchers For Abused Children
Child Welfare Information Gateway

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