Child Abuse Statistics & Facts

Scope of the Child Abuse Issue

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. It’s a widespread war against our children that we have the power to stop, and understanding the issue is the first step. Just how bad is the issue of child abuse in the United States?

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children).

The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect. 1, 2

A report of a child abuse is made every ten seconds.

Yearly, referrals to state child protective services involve 6.3 million children, and around 3 million of those children are subject to an investigated report. 3

Prevalence as reported by participants in landmark CDC/Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences study 1
Category Prevalence (%)
Physical Abuse 28.3
Sexual Abuse 20.7
Emotional Abuse 10.6
Physical Neglect 9.9
Emotional Neglect 14.8
In 2012, state agencies found an estimated 686,000 victims of child maltreatment, 3 but that only tells part of the story.
This would pack 10 modern football stadiums
10

Health Impacts of Child Abuse

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links adverse childhood experiences (which include other household dysfunctions along with abuse and neglect) with a range of long-term health impacts. 4

Individuals who reported six or more adverse childhood experiences had an average life expectancy two decades shorter than those who reported none. 5

Ischemic heart disease (IHD), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver disease and other health-related quality of life issues are tied to child abuse.

Mental Health Disorders, Addictions, & Related Issues
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Illicit drug abuse
  • Smoking & drinking at an early age
  • Depression
  • Suicide attempts
Sexual & Reproductive Health Issues and Risk Factors
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy and Fetal death

Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy. For girls, the likelihood of teen pregnancy increases with each adverse childhood experience. 7

In one study, 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder. 6

Financial Impacts of Child Abuse

The long-term financial impact of abuse and neglect is staggering.

For new cases in 2008 alone, lifetime estimates of lost worker productivity, health care costs, special education costs, child welfare expenditures and criminal justice expenditures added up to $124 billion.8

This could send 1.7 million children to college

Child Abuse Fatalities

We must learn to recognize early signs of abuse in order to help save the 5 children that die every day from child abuse and neglect.

In 2012, state agencies identified an estimated 1,640 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect — between four and five children a day. 3 However, studies also indicate significant undercounting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies — by 50% or more. 10

That's roughly ¼ of your child's elementary school class.

More than 70% of the children who died as a result of child abuse or neglect were two years of age or younger. More than 80% were not yet old enough for kindergarten. 3

Around 80% of child maltreatment fatalities involve at least one parent as perpetrator. 3

Estimated Child Fatalities Per Day Attributed to Child Maltreatment

Behavioral Health and Crime Related to Child Abuse

Substance Abuse and child maltreatment are tragically and undeniably linked.

Children with parents who abuse alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused, and more than four times more likely to be neglected, as children with parents who do not. 9

As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children. 11

14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.12

Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.12