U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Abuse and Neglect

State child protective services (CPS) agencies received approximately 3.3 million referrals, involving an estimated 6.0 million children, alleging abuse or neglect in 2006. More than half of these reports were made by community professionals, such as teachers and other educational personnel, police officers, medical personnel, and daycare providers.

Investigations determined that an estimated 905,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2006, equaling a victimization rate of 12.1 per 1,000 children in the population. Neglect was the most common type of maltreatment (experienced by 64.1 percent of victims), followed by physical abuse (16.0 percent). Other types of abuse included sexual abuse, psychological maltreatment, medical neglect, and categories of abuse based on specific State laws and policies. Some children suffered multiple types of maltreatment.

Victimization rates were highest among young children. In 2006, the rate of victimization among children under 1 year of age was 24.4 per 1,000 children of the same age; the rate declined steadily as age increased (data not shown). Younger children were more likely than older children to be victims of neglect, while older children were more likely to be physically or sexually abused. Almost 80 percent of perpetrators of abuse or neglect were parents of the victim. Remaining types of perpetrators included other relatives (6.7 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 0.4 percent of perpetrators, while friends and neighbors accounted for 0.5 percent.

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