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Child Abuse in America
Click for:   Message from Mark  |  The Foundation  |  About Child Abuse

The problem of child abuse is real and growing.

The problem of child abuse is real, and growing. Last year, alone, child protective service agencies investigated more than 2 million reports alleging maltreatment of more than 3 million children. A 1998 report from the Department of Health and Human Services documents:

The national rate of children who were reported was 44 per 1,000 children in the population.

Reports were received from professionals (52 percent), persons in the families of the victims, including parents, other relatives, and the victims themselves (18 percent), and friends and neighbors (9 percent). Twenty percent of reports were from other or anonymous persons.

The national rate of victimization was 15 victims per 1,000 children in the population.

More than half (52 percent) of all victims suffered neglect, while almost a quarter (24 percent) suffered physical abuse. About 12 percent of the victims were sexually abused. Children suffering medical neglect and emotional maltreatment accounted for 3 percent and 6 percent of all victims, respectively. A greater proportion of neglect and medical neglect victims were children younger than 8 years old, while a greater proportion of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse victims were children age 8 or older.

More than half (53 percent) of all victims were white. African American children represented the second-largest group of victims (27 percent). Hispanic children were about 11 percent of victims, American Indian/Alaska Native children about 2 percent of victims and Asian/Pacific Islander children about 1 percent of victims. The percentages of African American and American Indian/Alaska Native victims were disproportionately high, almost twice their representation in the national child population.

An estimated 1,077 child maltreatment fatalities occurred in the 50 States and the District of Columbia in 1996. Based on data from a subset of states, children younger than age 4 accounted for 76 percent of fatalities.