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 3.2 million referrals, involving an estimated 5.8 million children, alleging abuse or neglect in 2007. More than half of these reports were made by community professionals, such as teachers and other educational personnel, police officers, medical personnel, and childcare providers.

Investigations determined that an estimated 794,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2007, equaling a victimization rate of 10.6 per 1,000 children in the population. Neglect was the most common type of maltreatment (experienced by 59.0 percent of victims), followed by physical abuse (10.8 percent), and sexual abuse (7.6 percent). Less common types of documented abuse included psychological maltreatment, medical neglect, and categories of abuse defined by specific State laws and policies. Multiple types of maltreatment were suffered by 13.1 percent of victims.

Victimization rates were highest among young children. In 2007, the rate of victimization among children under 1 year of age was 22.2 per 1,000 among boys and 21.5 per 1,000 among girls; the rate declined steadily with increasing age (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. Overall, 80 percent of perpetrators of abuse or neglect were parents of the victim (either alone or in conjunction with another person). Additional categories of perpetrators included other relatives (4.8 percent), unmarried partners of parents (2.6 percent), and professionals such as childcare workers and residential facility staff (0.8 percent). Other types of perpetrators included foster parents, friends and neighbors, and legal guardians.

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