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Statistics on Child Abuse


WHY DOES CHILD ABUSE OCCUR? Although not all causes of child abuse and neglect are known, a significant body of research has identified several risk factors and protective factors associated with child abuse. Studies also have shown that when there are multiple risk factors present, the risk is greater. For example, lack of preparation or knowledge of child development.  Parents may lack an understanding of their children’s developmental stages and hold unreasonable expectations for their abilities. They also may be unaware of alternatives to corporal punishment or how to appropriately discipline their children at different ages. Parents also may lack knowledge of the health, hygiene, and nutritional needs of their children.

These circumstances, combined with the inherent challenges of raising children, can result in otherwise well-intentioned parents causing their children harm or neglecting their needs. Critical issues surrounding parenting, financial or other environmental stressors (substance abuse) difficulty in relationships, and depression or other mental health problems can all lead to abusive or neglectful behavior.  According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 2010 Child Maltreatment Report, we know the following:

  • Victims in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization
  • Victimization was split between the sexes with boys accounting for 48.2 percent and girls account­ in for 51.1 percent, less than 1 percent of victims had an unknown sex.
  • Eighty-seven percent of victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities—African-American(22.3%), Hispanic (20.7%), and White (44.0%).

What were the most common types of maltreatment?

As in prior years, the greatest proportion of children suffered from neglect. A child may have suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment and was counted once for each maltreatment type. CPS investiga­tions or assessments determined that for unique victims:

  • More than 75 percent (78.3%) suffered neglect
  • More than 15 percent (17.8%) suffered physical abuse
  • Less than 10 percent (9.5%) suffered sexual abuse;
  • Less than 10 percent (7.6%) suffered from psychological maltreatment

Who abused and neglected children?

  • Four-fifths (80.9%) of duplicate perpetrators of child maltreatment were parents, and another 6.3 percent were other relatives of the victim;
  • Of the duplicate perpetrators who were parents, four-fifths (84.7%) were the biological parents of the victim;
  • Women comprised a larger percentage of all unique perpetrators than men, 53.8 percent compared to 44.4 percent
  • Four-fifths (83.2%) of all unique perpetrators were between the ages of 20 and 49 years.

Child Abuse is the inability or unwillingness to give adequate care to a child, the purposeful inflicting of physical injuries, emotional harm, and sexual abuse. Child Abuse can include any of the following.

  • PHYSICAL ABUSE: A physical injury which is inflicted by other than accidental means on a child by a parent, a caregiver, or other adult known or unknown to the child. Corporal punishment becomes child abuse if it causes internal or external injuries.
  • SEXUAL ABUSE: Includes rape, incest, sodomy, oral copulation, penetration of an oral or anal opening by a foreign object, child molestation and lewd/lascivious behavior with a child both in and out of the family.
  • UNJUSTIFIABLE PUNISHMENT: Unreasonable or extreme patterns of discipline that result in emotional distress or physical suffering for a child.
  • WILLFUL CRUELTY: Willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer, inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or knowingly placing a child in a dangerous situation.
  • MENTAL SUFFERING/EMOTIONAL NEGLECT: Causing or permitting children mental suffering or failing to provide normal experiences that produce feelings of being loved, wanted, secure and worthwhile. Ignoring or refusing to consider a child’s emotional needs.
  • DOMESTIC/FAMILY VIOLENCE: Often children are the hardest hit by domestic or family violence. Exposure to domestic abuse is psychological abuse and extremely damaging.
  • SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Children are affected by parental involvement with alcohol and drugs through actions of parents caused by substances and exposure to manufacture and sales of illegal substances.

Neglect occurs when parents are unable or unwilling to provide for basic needs, such as food, shelter, medical care, educational needs, and emotional needs, of a child. We all have a role to play in building strong communities in which families and children are valued and supported. It is in these kinds of communities that children are safest from abuse and neglect. The Center for the Study of Social Policy http://www.cssp.org/ has developed the Five Protective Factors which can help individuals better understands the role they can play in child abuse and neglect prevention.

 1) Parental Resilience: The ability to cope and bounce back from challenges.

2) Social Connections: Friends, family, neighbors, and others who provide emotional support and assistance.

3) Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Accurate information about raising children and appropriate expectations for their behavior.

4) Concrete Support in Times of Need:  Being able to cover day-to-day expensed and unexpected costs that come from time to time, access to supports such as health services, counseling, and other services

5)  Children’s Social and Emotional Development:  A child’s ability to interact positively with others and communicate his or her emotions effectively.