Child Abuse and Neglect

When children have suffered abuse or neglect and cannot safely remain with their families, child welfare officials are obligated to provide them safe and appropriate homes, adequate services to ensure their well-being and resources to recover from trauma. Unfortunately, too many children will be further maltreated at the hands of the people entrusted with their protection.

In 2012:

There were 3.4 million reports of child maltreatment in the United States involving more than six million children.

More than 680,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment.

Of these:

  • 78.3 percent suffered neglect.
  • 18.3 percent suffered physical abuse.
  • 9.3 percent suffered sexual abuse.

Young children are particularly vulnerable— 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect, and about 70 percent of these children were younger than 3 years old. More than 44 percent of children who die from abuse and neglect every year are under a year old.

While it is often assumed that children who die from maltreatment are physically abused, in 2012, nearly 70 percent had been neglected, either exclusively or in combination with another form of abuse.

Some children who died from abuse or neglect were already known to child protective services (CPS) agencies. In 30 states, the children whose families CPS tried to keep intact during the past five years accounted for 8.5 percent of child fatalities in 2012. In 35 states, 2.2 percent of children who died from abuse or neglect had been in foster care and were reunited with their families in the past five years.

More than 80 percent of perpetrators of child maltreatment were parents acting alone, together, or with other individuals.