Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S.

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from https://americanspcc.org/child-abuse-statistics/

Child Abuse in America

American children are suffering from a hidden  epidemic of child abuse and neglect. National child abuse estimates are well known for being under-reported. The latest 2015 Child Maltreatment Report from The Children’s Bureau was published in January 2017. The report shows an increase in child abuse referrals from 3.6 million to 4 million. The number of children involved subsequently increased to 7.2 million from 6.6 million. The report also indicates an increase in child deaths from abuse and neglect to 1,670 in 2015, up from 1,580 in 2014 (1). Some reports estimate child abuse fatalities at 1,740 or even higher.

The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing an average almost five (5) children every day to child abuse and neglect.

National Child Abuse Statistics

  • 4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children.
  • 3.4 million children received prevention & post-response services.
  • 207,000 children received foster care services.
  • 75.3% of victims are neglected.
  • 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
  • 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).
  • Over one-quarter (27%) of victims are younger than 3 years.
  • Annual estimate: 1,670 to 1,740 children died from abuse and neglect.
  • Almost five children die every day from child abuse.
  • 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
  • 74.8% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.
  • 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
  • 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
  • 49.4% of  children who die from child abuse are under one year.
  • Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
  • Estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.

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.
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

Child Abuse Consequences

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk taking, 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 that 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.

Child Abuse Risk Factors

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

Child Abuse & Alcohol/Substance Abuse

  • 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.
  • 10.3% – 15.8% of children have a parent/caregiver alcohol abuse risk factor.
  • 25.4% – 33.2% of children have a parent/caregiver drug abuse risk factor.
  • 25% – 33.2% of children have a domestic violence abuse risk factor.

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