Child Victimization Declines as Reports of it Continue to Rise

Documented child abuse and neglect declined for a second consecutive year, while investigations of such maltreatment continued to increase.

Nationwide, 3.5 million children were the subject of at least one report to child protective services (CPS), according to the federal “Child Maltreatment” report for fiscal year 2017. Seventeen percent of those children were deemed to be victims of abuse, neglect or another form of maltreatment, a rate of 9.1 per 1,000 children.

The other 83 percent were either determined to be safe and the investigation was closed, or the family was offered an “alternative response” for voluntary supportive services.

Though 2016 and 2017 each saw dips in the number of abuse and neglect victims, the total is still about 3 percent higher than it was in 2013. The number of youth who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response rose by 10 percent in the same time period.

The national estimate of child fatalities was 1,720, an 11 percent increase from 2013.

“The report shows us that we are making strides in reducing victimization and deaths due to maltreatment, however, the numbers of victims and deaths are still higher than they were five years ago, which is significantly concerning,” said Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, in a statement issued with the release of the report.

Source: Child Maltreatment 2017, Department of Health and Human Services

An estimated 674,000 youth across the country were determined to have been abused or neglected in 2017, at a rate of 9.1 children for every 1,000 in the population. General neglect continues to be the predominant type of maltreatment encountered by CPS, accounting for 75 percent of all victims. Eighteen percent are physically abused, and just under 9 percent are sexually abused.

Of the youth who were victims of abuse or neglect, 24 percent were removed from their homes. Nearly two-thirds of victims and one-third of non-victims received services following the initial response by a child protection agency.

The vast majority of youth represented in this data were the subject of just one report – 13 percent were in two reports, and 4 percent were in three or more.

While the overall rate of victimization is 9.1 per 1,000 youth, for black youth that number is 13.9 per 1,000 youth, and 14.3 per 1,000 for Native American youth.

Read the full report here.

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Sara Tiano
About Sara Tiano 80 Articles
General assignment reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change