On January 29, 2024, the Children’s Bureau released the annual child abuse and neglect report: Child Maltreatment 2022. This year’s report shows a continued decrease in child maltreatment; it reveals that of the nationally estimated 3,096,101 children who were the subject of a child welfare agency response in FY 2022, 558,899 children were determined to be victims of maltreatment. This is the lowest number of children identified as victims of maltreatment in the last five years, a 20% decrease from the FFY 2018 number of 698,189.

However, child fatalities have increased: an estimated 1,990 children died from abuse and neglect in FY 2022 compared to an estimated 1,930 children whose deaths were determined as due to maltreatment during FY 2021. ACF Acting Assistant Secretary Jeff Hild said in the press release, “The child maltreatment report shows we are making strides in preventing child abuse and neglect. However, the numbers of child maltreatment deaths are higher than they were five years ago, and we need to further understand the underlying circumstances of these fatalities so we can continue to enhance and expand our prevention efforts to keep children safe and well.”

For fiscal year 2022, there are nationally an estimated 558,899 victims of child abuse and neglect, a decrease from 600,000 in 2021. The victim rate is 7.7 victims per 1,000 children in the population. Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies received a national estimate of 4,276,000 total referrals, including approximately 7.53 million children. The national rate of screened-in referrals is 29.0 per 1,000 children in the national population. Among the 47 states that report both screened-in and screened-out referrals, 49.5% of referrals are screened in and 50.5% are screened out.

Reporters. For 2022, professionals submitted 70.0% of reports alleging child abuse and neglect. The term “professionals” includes teachers, police officers, lawyers, and social services staff. The highest percentages of reports are from legal and law enforcement personnel (21.2%), education personnel (20.7%), and medical personnel (11.2%). Nonprofessionals, including friends, neighbors, and relatives, submitted fewer than one-fifth of reports (15.2%).


  • More than one-quarter (27.3%) of victims are in the age range of birth through 2 years old.
  • Children younger than 1 year old had the highest rate of victimization at 22.2 per 1,000 children of the same age in the national population.
  • The victimization rate for girls is 8.2 per 1,000 girls in the population, which is higher than boys at 7.1 per 1,000 boys in the population.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native children have the highest rate of victimization at 14.3 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity.
  • African American children have the second highest rate at 12.1 per 1,000 children of the same race or ethnicity.

Type of Maltreatment. The Children’s Bureau also reports the different types of maltreatment experienced. A victim may have more than one type of maltreatment, which means that percentages may add up to more than 100%. For FFY 2022, 74.3% of victims are classified as neglect, 17.0% are physically abused, 10.6% are sexually abused and 0.2% are sex trafficked. These numbers are largely consistent with the numbers in FY 2021’s report.

Infants with Prenatal Substance Exposure. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 amended CAPTA by adding a requirement to report the number of infants with prenatal substance exposure (IPSE), the number of IPSE with a plan of safe care, and the number of IPSE with a referral to appropriate services. States began reporting this data in 2018. FFY 2022 data show:

  • 45,756 infants in 50 states being referred to CPS agencies as infants with prenatal substance exposure.
  • The majority (79.2%) of IPSE were screened-in. Of the screened-in IPSE, 82.4 percent have the drug abuse child risk factor, 0.5 percent have the alcohol abuse child risk factor and 17.0 percent have the alcohol and drug abuse child risk factor.
  • Thirty-six states reported one-fifth (20.8%) of IPSE were screened out.
  • Thirty-three states reported a majority of screened-in IPSE (69.5%) have a plan of safe care. This is an improvement in the number of states reporting, but a decrease in the number of screened-in IPSE with a plan of safe care.

Child Fatalities. For FFY 2022, a national estimate of 1,990 children died from abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.73 per 100,000 children in the population. The 2022 national estimate is a 12.7 percent increase from the 2018 actual number of child fatalities of 1,765. The child fatality demographics show:

  • The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment, with 66.1 percent of child fatalities younger than 3 years old and 45.6 percent of child fatalities younger than 1 year old.
  • Boys have a higher child fatality rate than girls.
  • The rate of African American child fatalities is 3.2 times greater than the rate of White children and 3.8 times greater than the rate of Hispanic children.

Prevention Services. CPS agencies provide services to children and their families, both in their homes and in foster care. During 2022:

  • Forty-five Forty-six states reported an estimated 1,922,792 children received prevention services. (An increase from 1,761,128 in FY2021). The biggest source of federal funding is Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Grants.
  • Approximately 897,486 children received post-response services from a CPS agency, a decrease from last year (1,051,818 children) attributed to improved reporting.
  • 55.0 percent of victims and 20.3 percent of nonvictims received post-response services.

Legal Representation. With greater efforts to promote legal representation to children and families who have contact with CPS and child welfare systems, the report indicates that twenty-five states reported 51,193 victims (19.0%) have court-appointed representatives. This is a decrease from FFY 2021 when 25 states reported 52,222 victims (19.7%) had court-appointed representatives. Under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) there is a requirement for states to provide a guardian ad litem or Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) in every case.

Special Focus

Each year, the Child Maltreatment Report includes a special focus, diving deeper into a specific area for further study and exploration. This year, the report highlights analyses of specific subsets of children or data analyses focusing on specific topics, reviewing different dimensions of maltreatment type to identify patterns.

Substantiations: Most victims are reported with a specific maltreatment type once within FFY 2022. Victims of neglect have the most multiple substantiations with 93.2 percent of neglect victims having a single neglect substantiation, 6.0 percent having two substantiations and fewer than 1.0 percent of victims having three substantiations.

Maltreatment Type: 88.6 percent of victims experience one type of substantiated maltreatment, although they could have any one type of substantiated maltreatment multiple times. More than three-fifths of all victims are neglected only.

Report Sources: For all report sources, neglect is the most common maltreatment type. The two report sources with the highest and nearly identical percentages of referrals alleging maltreatment are education personnel (20.7%) and legal and law enforcement personnel (21.2%.); however, legal and law enforcement personnel report more than 2.5 times the number of substantiated maltreatment types than any other report source, including education personnel.

Race and Ethnicity: Within each race or ethnicity, most are victims of neglect. Black or African-American victims have the highest percentage of physical abuse at 17.1 percent. American Indian or Alaska Native victims have a high percentage (13.2%) of psychological maltreatment. Hispanic victims have similar percentages for sexual abuse 10.5 percent and physical abuse 10.2 percent.

Sex and Age: Nationally the victims of neglect are split relatively evenly between the sexes; however, analyzing by single year age shows some differences. For example, from birth until age 10, boys are more represented among neglect victims; beginning at age 11, girls are more often determined to be neglect victims. Similarly, from birth to age 11, boys are more represented among physical abuse victims; beginning at age 12, girls are more often determined to be victims of physical abuse. There is a larger percentage of girl sexual abuse victims for all single year ages with the percentage of girl victims steadily increasing each year; the percentages range from 55.3 percent for victims less than 1 year old to 87.4 percent for age 17.

Further study and analysis of the data both nationally and in each state could ultimately lead to implications and recommendations for policy and practice initiatives to improve child maltreatment prevention efforts.