Child Abuse Statistics & Facts
Scope of the Child Abuse Issue
Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children (a referral 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
Yearly, referrals to state child protective services involve 6.6 million children, and around 3.2 million of those children are subject to an investigated report. 2
Health Impacts of Child Abuse
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.
- Risk for intimate partner violence
- Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
- Illicit drug abuse
- Smoking & drinking at an early age
- Suicide attempts
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unintended pregnancies
- Early initiation of sexual activity
- Adolescent pregnancy and Fetal death
Financial Impacts of Child Abuse
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
Child Abuse Fatalities
In 2014, state agencies identified an estimated 1,580 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect — between four and five children a day. 2 However, studies also indicate significant undercounting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies — by 50% or more. 10
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
Behavioral Health and Crime Related to Child Abuse
In a study of 513 children exposed to drugs in-utero, rates of abuse were two to three times that of other children in the same geographical area 9
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
- 1. CDC, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study
- 2. Child Maltreatment, 2014
- 3. Kids Count
- 4. CDC, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study
- 5. Brown, D. et. al. Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Premature Mortality; Am. J. of Preventative Medicine (2009) Vol. 37, Iss. 5
- 6. Amy B. Silverman, Helen Z. Reinherz, Rose M. Giaconia, The long-term sequelae of child and adolescent abuse: A longitudinal community study, Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 20, Issue 8, August 1996, Pages 709-723.
- 7. Hillis, SD, Anda, RF, et. al. The association between adverse childhood experiences and adolescent pregnancy, long-term psychosocial consequences, and fetal death. Pediatrics; 2004 Feb; 113(2):320-7
- 8. Fang, X., et al. The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect (2012), doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.10.006
- 9. Jaudes, P. K., Ekwo, E., & Van Voorhis, J. (1995). Association of drug abuse and child abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 19(9), 1065-1075.
- 10. GAO
- 11. Swan, N. (1998). Exploring the role of child abuse on later drug abuse: Researchers face broad gaps in information. NIDA Notes, 13(2).
- 12. Harlow, CW. Prior Abuse Reported by Inmates and Probationers. Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999