Child Abuse and Neglect

State child protective services (CPS) agencies received approximately 3.3 million referrals, involving an estimated 6 million children, alleging abuse or neglect in 2005. More than half of these reports were made by community professionals, such as teachers, other educational personnel, police officers, medical personnel, and daycare providers.

Investigations determined that an estimated 899,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2005;1 this is equivalent to a rate of about 12.1 per 1,000 children under 18 years of age. Neglect was the most common type of maltreatment (7.6 per 1,000 children), followed by physical abuse (2.0 per 1,000). Other types of abuse included sexual abuse, psychological maltreatment, medical neglect, and categories of abuse based on specific State laws and policies. Some children suffer multiple types of maltreatment.

Victimization rates were highest among young children. In 2005, the rate of victimization among children from birth to age 3 was 16.5 per 1,000 children of the same age; the rate declined steadily as age increased (data not shown).

A majority of the perpetrators of abuse and neglect, almost 80 percent, were parents. Remaining types of perpetrators included other relatives (6.8 percent), unmarried partners of parents (3.8 percent), and professionals such as daycare workers and residential facility staff (0.9 percent). Foster parents accounted for 0.5 percent of perpetrators, while friends and neighbors accounted for 0.6 percent.

Data were obtained from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the primary source of national information on abused and neglected children known to State CPS agencies.

1 The increase of approximately 20,000 victims since 2004 is likely due to the inclusion of Puerto Rico and Alaska in 2005.

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