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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Child Maltreatment

Child maltreatment includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, as well as neglect (including medical neglect). Maltreatment in general is associated with a number of negative outcomes for children, including lower school achievement, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and mental health problems.29 Certain types of maltreatment can result in long-term physical, social, and emotional problems, and even death. For example, "shaken baby syndrome" can result in mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or paralysis. Child maltreatment includes both fatal and nonfatal maltreatment.

Indicator Fam7: Rate of substantiated maltreatment reports of children ages 0–17 by age, 1998–2011
Rate of substantiated maltreatment reports of children ages 0–17 by age, 1998–2011

NOTE: The count of child victims is based on the number of investigations by Child Protective Services that found the child to be a victim of one or more types of maltreatment. The count of victims is, therefore, a report-based count and a "duplicated count," since an individual child may have been maltreated more than once. The number of states reporting varies from year to year. States vary in their definition of abuse and neglect. Data since 2007 are not directly comparable with prior years as differences may be partially attributed to changes in one state's procedures for determination of maltreatment.

SOURCE: Administration for Children and Families, National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.

  • In 2011, the rate of substantiated reports of child maltreatment was 10 per 1,000 children ages 0–17. This represents a decrease since 2007, when the rate was approximately 11 reports per 1,000 children ages 0–17.30
  • Younger children are more frequently victims of child maltreatment than are older children. In 2011, there were 23 substantiated child maltreatment reports per 1,000 children under age 1, compared with 13 reports for children ages 1–3, 11 for children ages 4–7, 8 for children ages 8–11, 8 for children ages 12–15, and 5 for adolescents ages 16–17.
  • Higher rates of maltreatment were reported for girls than boys (10 reports per 1,000 for females vs. 9 for males).
  • While neglect is the most common type of maltreatment across all age groups, types of maltreatment vary by age. In 2011, about 81 percent of substantiated child maltreatment reports for children ages 0–3 involved neglect, compared with 63 percent for adolescents ages 16–17. Twenty-one percent of substantiated reports for adolescents ages 16–17 involved physical abuse and 17 percent involved sexual abuse. Among substantiated reports for children ages 0–3, some 14 percent involved physical abuse and 2 percent involved sexual abuse.
  • In 2011, Black, non-Hispanic children had the highest rates of substantiated child maltreatment reports (15 reports per 1,000 children), followed by American Indian or Alaska Native children (12), children of two or more races (11), Hispanic children (9), White, non-Hispanic children (9), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander children (9), and Asian children (2).

table icon FAM7.A HTML Table, FAM7.B HTML Table

29 Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). A coordinated response to child abuse and neglect: The foundation for practice. Retrieved August 28, 2006, from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/foundation/foundationf.cfm.

30 Data since 2007 are not directly comparable with prior years as differences may be partially attributed to changes in one state's procedures for determination of maltreatment. Other reasons include the increase in children who received an "other" disposition, the decrease in the percentage of children who received a substantiated or indicated disposition, and the decrease in the number of children who received an investigation or assessment.