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National Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Statistics

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Quick Facts about CAN

Child Fatalities
Estimated Cost of Child Abuse in the U.S.
Maltreatment Types
Physical Abuse
Potential Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
Reporting of Abuse
Sexual Abuse
Quick Facts1
Types of Abuse
The various types of maltreatment are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological maltreatment, medical neglect and an "other"2 category. The category of "other" exists because there may be instances of abuse that my not fit in the conventional definitions of the main categories. The following figure lists the various types of abuse and their respective percentage of the total abuse cases.
During 2009, victims of each type of abuse were as follows:

Physical Abuse17.8%
Sexual Abuse9.5%
Psychological Maltreatment7.6%
Medical Neglect2.4%

NOTE: These percentages total more than 100% because if a child fell into more than one category each maltreatment type was counted accordingly.


Factors associated with recurrence include: having a disability, being a prior victim, being in foster care, being exclusively American Indian/Alaska Native, exclusively white or of multiple races, and being younger than 3 years of age.


NOTE: The following rates are per 1,000 children of the same age group, ethnicity or gender respective to the category being addressed.

The rate of victimization per 1,000 children in 2009 was 9.3, a decrease from the rate of 10.5 children per 1,000 victimized in 2001.3

In 2009, out of over 3.3 million reports of child abuse and neglect, only 702,000 children were substantiated as victims of at least one account of child maltreatment.

An estimated 1,770 children died as a result of being neglected or abused during 2009, an increase from the 2008 estimates.

The gender of maltreatment victims was almost split evenly in 2009 (about 48% male, 52% female).4

Almost 33% of child abuse victims were under the age of 4. As the childs age increases, the rate of abuse decreases.

Caucasian children are the highest percentage of maltreatment victims, however this is partly due to the fact that the highest child population in the U.S. by ethnicity is Caucasian. Therefore, the victims are also broken down by rates per 1,000 children in each ethnicity group for child maltreatment victims:

  • Highest victimization rate (15.1) for 2009 = African-American children
  • Multiracial children were victimized at about 12.4 children per 1,000 children
  • American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Islander had rates of 11.6 and 11.3
  • Hispanic children are third highest with a rate of 8.7Followed by Caucasian with a rate of 7.8.
  • By far, the lowest victimization rate among the ethnic groups was for Asian children at a rate of 2.0.

Factors that placed children at a greater potential of being substantiated as victims included:5

  • Children with claims of several types of maltreatment
  • Children who were disabled
  • Children reported by educational professionals
  • Children with allegations of sexual abuse
Reporting of Abuse4

Sixty-one thousand referrals of child maltreatment are reported to CPS each week. This translates into about 6 cases reported every minute. In 2007, 3.2 million referrals were made to CPS. Since one report of child abuse may involve more than one child, a total of 5.8 million children were involved in a child abuse report in 2007.

During 2007, the rate of referrals was 43.7 per 1,000 children. Sixty-two percent of these referrals were investigated; 25% of these investigations determined that at least one child was a victim of maltreatment.

In 2007, the most common source of reports (58%) among professionals was those given by educational personnel (educators made 17% of all reports from professionals). Parents reported about 6% of cases.

Potential Effects of Maltreatment

The effects of maltreatment differ across situations and by individuals. Each person responds differently to maltreatment and each person is different in how they cope with stressful events.

Long-term consequences of maltreatment depend on the type of maltreatment, but may include:

  • Chronic illness due to medical neglect
  • Mental illness due to psychological or emotional maltreatment like major depressive disorder6
  • Fatality

Sexual Abuse

About 10% of maltreated children are sexually abused. If a child was sexually abused they were 43% more likely to be victims of other types of child maltreatment if they had been sexually abused in the past.7

One study found that about 90% of child molesters abuse children that they know.8

Not all molesters of children are identified as pedophiles, but those who are commit 95% of all sexual misdeeds on children.7 Pedophilia is a disorder where are adults whose primary sexual interest is in children that are pre-pubertal. A hebephile is an adult that is primarily aroused by adolescents who have gone through puberty.9

Men molest girls more often than boys, but those who molest boys have a higher quantity of victims. Most sexual acts with children involving women are underreported.8

Child molesters are equivalent to the typical residents of the U.S. not only in education, but also in the percentage of those who are married or formerly married as well as religious observance. Furthermore, molesters of children are quite equal in every ethnic group and do not appear to be specific to any ethnicity.8

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is what most people think about when they hear the words "child abuse." It is an act that results in physical injury to a child such as punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, breaking bones, hair pulling, and shaking a baby.

Approximately 11 percent of all child abuse cases are the result of physical abuse.10

Certain areas that may be bruised that do not occur during normal play and that may be causes for concern are such areas as:11

  • cheeks
  • ears
  • mouth
  • buttocks
  • thighs
  • stomach
Risk Factors of an Abusive Caretaker:12

  • Was abused as a child
  • Has previously abused children
  • Does not show love or concern for the child
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol
  • Has high stress levels
  • Is mentally ill or is emotionally unstable

Of all the types of child maltreatment, child neglect is the most prevalent. However, neglect is greatly underreported and often goes unnoticed among professionals or others who care for the child.
Of the 794,000 maltreatment victims in 2007, 59% were neglected compared to 11% who were physically abused, quite a significant difference.10

Physical neglect is the most common type of neglect. This includes abandonment, medical neglect, inadequate nutrition, clothing or hygiene, and being left unattended in a car.

Neglect is broken down to a stratification of severity: mild, moderate, or severe.

Neglect can also be labeled into categories. These are: physical, medical, environmental, inadequate supervision, emotional, educational, and newborns addicted or exposed to drugs.

1 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2007 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009). Retrieved April 3 2009 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm07/index.htm

2 The "other" category may include: abandonment, threats of harm to the child, congenital drug addiction, or any other type of condition depending on the state definitions that may not apply to the main categories.

3 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2001 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2003). Retrieved August 15, 2007 from

4 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2004 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006). Retrieved March 15, 2007 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm04/cm04.pdf

5 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2004 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006). Retrieved March 15, 2007 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm04/cm04.pdf

6 Widom, C.S., DuMont, K., & Czaja, S.J. (2007). A prospective investigation of major depressive disorder and comorbidity in abused and neglected children grown up. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 64, 49-56.

7 Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H., & Hamby, S.L., (Feb, 2005). The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive, national survey. Child Maltreatment, 10 (1), 5-25.

8 Abel, G.G., & Harlow, N. (2002). Child molestation prevention study excerpted from The stop child molestation book. Xlibris, 2001.

9 http://www.childmolestationprevention.org/pages/focus_on_the_cause.html

10 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2005 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007). Retrieved May 19, 2007 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/index.htm#can

11 http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/ABUSE2.HTM

12 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001552.htm#Definition

13 DePanfilis, D. (2006). Child neglect: A guide for prevention, assessment and intervention. Dept. HHS, et al. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/neglect/index.cfm

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