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Home > Juvenile Justice Division > Facts and Figures


Child Maltreatment & Juvenile Delinquency: Facts and Figures


  • Neglected children were nearly as likely as physically abused children to be arrested later for a violent crime. 1

  • In 2005, there were an estimated 1,460 child fatalities due to maltreatment.4

  • In 2006, law enforcement agencies reported 1,337,365 arrests of persons under age 18. 5

  • About one-quarter of juveniles who offended at ages 16-17 also offended as adults at ages 18-19. 6

  • Most adjudicated delinquency cases result in residential placement or formal probation. 6

  • In 2003, 307 juvenile offenders were in custody for every 100,000 juveniles in the U.S. Populations. 6

  • African American youth between ages 10 and 17 constitute about 16 percent of the population nationwide, yet account for 27% of juveniles detained and 36% of juveniles committed to secure institutions. Overall, minorities account for 60 percent of juveniles committed to secure facilities. 7

  • A black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance; and a White boy a 1 in 17 chance.7

  • The decline in black juveniles in custody led the overall 1997-2003 custody population decline. 6

Childhood Victimization & Future Criminality
Maltreated children were:
  • younger at the time of their first arrest
  • committed nearly twice as many offenses
  • were arrested more frequently1

    Being abused or neglected increased the likelihood of arrest:
  • As a juvenile by 59%
  • As an adult by 28%
  • For a violent crime by 30%1

    Common Family Risk Factors of Offending Children and Maltreated Children:
  • Failure to supervise and monitor children
  • Excessively severe, harsh, or inconsistent punishment
  • Domestic violence
  • Caregiver Substance Abuse2

    Family Risk Factors that Apply Particularly to Very Young Offenders:
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Family disruption, especially changes in caretakers
  • Parental antisocial or delinquent behavior
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Maternal depression
  • Access to weapons, especially guns3

    In 2005, there were 3.3 million reports for child abuse & maltreatment:
  • 899,000 substantiated
  • 62.8% neglect
  • 16.6% physical abuse
  • 9.3% sexual abuse
  • 42.2% attributed to neglect
  • 76.6% were younger than 4 years old4

    Total Percent Changes in Arrests for Juveniles (persons under age 18):
  • From 1997 - 2006, juvenile arrests decreased by 24%
  • From 2002 - 2006, juvenile arrests decreased by 3.1%
  • From 2005 - 2006, juvenile arrests increased by 0.8%5

    Everyday in America, an average of 7,500 youth are incarcerated in adult jails, although the annual number of youth is even higher.

    Youth placed in adult correctional facilities:
  • are more likely to re-offend and be re-arrested for serious crimes
  • have the highest suicide rate of all inmates
  • are less likely to receive proper education, if any 8
    View Facts and Figures From:
    Additional Resources and Services:


      1 Widom, C.S., & Maxfield, J.B. (2001, February). Research in brief: An update on the “cycle of violence”. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
      2 Wiig, J.K., Widom, C.S., & Tuell J.A. (2003). Understanding child maltreatment & juvenile delinquency: From research to effective program, practice, and systemic solutions. Washington, DC: CWLA Press.
      3 Loeber, R. and Farrington, D. P. (Eds.) (2001). Child Delinquents: Development, Intervention and Service Needs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
      4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Child maltreatment 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007.
      5 United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations (September, 2007). Crime in the United States, 2006. Available online at
      6 Snyder, H.N. & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
      7 Children’s Defense Fund (2007). America’s cradle to prison pipeline report. Available online at
      8 Campaign for Youth Justice (November, 2007). Jailing juveniles: The dangers of incarcerating youth in adult jails in America. Available online at

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