How Many Children Are Abused and Neglected in the United States?
In 2017, the most recent year for which national child maltreatment statistics are available, about 4.1 million reports were made to child protective services concerning the safety and well-being of approximately 7.5 million children. As a result of these reports, a nationally estimated 674,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect. Of these children, three quarters (74.9 percent) were neglected, more than 18 percent (18.3 percent) were physically abused, and fewer than 10 percent (8.6 percent)were sexually abused.
What Are the Consequences?
Child maltreatment is a traumatic experience, and the impact on survivors can be profound.Traumatic events, whether isolated (e.g., a single incident of sexual abuse) or ongoing (e.g.,chronic emotional abuse or neglect), overwhelm
children’s ability to cope and elicit powerful physical and emotional responses.These responses continue even when the danger has passed, often until treatment is received.
Traumatic events may impair a child’s ability to trust others, their sense of personal safety, and effectiveness in navigating life changes.
Research shows that child maltreatment, like other trauma and adverse childhood experiences, is associated with poor physical health
and mental health outcomes in children and families, and those negative effects can last a lifetime.
The trauma of child abuse or neglect has been associated with increased risk of the following:
• Depression and suicide attempts
• Substance use
• Developmental disabilities and learning problems
• Social problems with other children and with adults
• Teen pregnancy
• Lack of success in school
• Domestic violence
• Chronic illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease, among others
What Can I Do If I Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect?
Anyone can and should report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you think a child is being mistreated, take immediate action.
Most States have a toll-free number for reporting. To find out how to make a report in your State, see theInformation
Gateway publication State Child Abuse andNeglect Reporting Numbers, at https://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/?CWIGFunctionsaction=rols:main.dspList&rolType=Custom&RS_ID=5.
Reporting the situation may protect the child and get additional help for the family. Many nonprofit, public, education, social service, and child care organizations in your community play a role in providing supports and services to children, youth, and families. Parenting education, crisis/respite care, transitional housing, and literacy programs as well as family resource centers, teen parent support groups, fatherhood groups, and marriage education classes support families in important ways.