Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect. Child abuse (also called child maltreatment) is any physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or other act involving a child with intent to harm the child. Child abuse can take the form of physical abuse, emotional or mental abuse, sexual assault, or neglect.
Any non-accidental physical injury to a child that can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting, or other actions that result in physical harm to a child.
Any sexual act performed with a child by an adult or older child, with or without force or the threat of force. Child sexual abuse can include touching or non-touching, verbal seduction or abuse, anal or vaginal intercourse, oral sex, manual stimulation, direct or implied threats. Exploitation includes engaging children in prostitution or the production of child pornography.
Sexual contact or acts between people who are related genetically, by marriage, by living arrangements, or in whom a child perceives a trusting relationship (e.g. parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-parents, or foster parents).
Behavior intent on harming the psychological or emotional capacity of a child. Examples include withholding affection, threatening a child, or rejection.
Failure to meet a child's basic needs, such housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care to a degree that threatens the child's health, safety, and well-being. Child neglect may or may not involve physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Statistics & Facts
More than four children die every day in the United States as a result of child abuse and neglect.
- Over 70% of children who die because of abuse and neglect are younger than three years old.
- Most child victims of abuse or neglect suffer at the hands of someone they know.
- A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
- More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse.
- It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
- Approximately 70% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
- More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
- Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
- 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 estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.
- 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.
- 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.
- One-third to two-thirds 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.
- As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported 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.
- 1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment.
- 1 in 16 children suffer from sexual abuse.
- Nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence.
The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. Over 25% of abused children are under the age of three while over 45% of abused children are under the age of five.
Number of children in the United States who died because of abuse or neglect in 2012: 1,593
Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect...
- 70.3% were younger than three years of age
- 44.4% were younger than one year of age
While boys and girls are equally as likely to be victims of abuse and neglect (in 2012, 48.5% of abused children were boys while 51.2% of abused children were girls); the rate of child fatality is higher for boys (in 2012, 57.6% of child fatalities due to abuse and neglect were boys).
More than 85% of the child fatalities in 2012 were white children. However, when comparing the number of child fatalities to the population data, Pacific Islander and African-American children had the highest rates of child fatalities (4.69 and 4.67 per 100,000 Pacific Islander and African-American children).
In over 20% of the child fatalities that occurred in 2012, the child was exposed to domestic violence in the home.
How many reports of child abuse are made?
Number of reports of child abuse every year in the United States: 2.9 million.
Reports that came from teachers, law enforcement or legal representatives, or social service providers: 60% (teachers 17%; law enforcement 17%; social service 11%).
- Of child abuse cases in 2012, in over 80% of the cases the parent was the perpetrator.
- In 2012, more than four-fifths (82.2%) of perpetrators were between the ages of 18 and 44 years while two-fifths (39.6%%) of perpetrators were in the 25-34 age group.
- Of the 2012 child abuse cases, 45.3% of the perpetrators were male and 53.5% were female.
- Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
- In a study of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, 80% met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.
- In a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth, it found that 46% of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse, and 17% left because of sexual abuse.
- Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violence crime.
- Adults who suffered child abuse and neglect can develop allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers, in addition to other physical disabilities because of poor health caused by the abuse.
- Child abuse and neglect have been associated with panic and dissociative disorders, attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and in adults who suffered abuse.
- Adults who were abused or neglected as children are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs during their lifetimes. A study found that as many as two-thirds of individuals in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children.
Researchers estimate that one-third of abused and neglected children will grow up to abuse their own children when they become parents.
$124 billion: Estimated minimum annual cost of child abuse to U.S. communities to provide:
- Healthcare to treat mental illnesses, substance abuse, mental and physical disabilities, and other health-related issues.
- Child welfare and protection.
- Law enforcement and court systems allocation to handle juvenile and adult criminal cases.
- Special education costs.
- Unemployment and underemployment services and benefits.
Help save young lives and young futures