Last week the Children’s Bureau released the annual 2013 Child Maltreatment Report. During the year, there were an estimated 3.5 million referrals or calls to child protective services agencies. The reports of child abuse or neglect were estimated to include 6.4 million children. Of the reports, an estimated 60.8 percent were screened in, meaning they resulted in further investigation by the child protective services (CPS) agency and 39 percent were screened out and did not result in additional investigation.
There was a continued decrease in the number of cases resulting in verification (substantiation) that child neglect or abuse occurred. For 2013, there were an estimated 678,932 victims of child abuse and neglect, down from 679,000 in 2012. Those are unique counts, meaning different children were substantiated as abused or neglected in those years.
The report also indicated that there were 1,520 child deaths as a result of abuse and neglect in 2013, a slight decrease from 1,630 in 2012. The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities is examining strategies to better address child fatalities. One particular challenge is around data collection. The numbers listed for child fatalities are in fact an estimate (as are all the final numbers cited) because each year some states miss out on some data and numbers are projected to all states. In addition there are challenges with definitions. The report indicates that the rate of child deaths ranged from 4.54 children per 100,000 to zero. Consistent with previous years, 81 percent of the child deaths were to children less than four years of age. The cause of death in the vast majority of cases (71 percent) were the result of child neglect alone or in combination with other forms of abuse. The child death figure is gathered (as the rest of these statistics are) from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems (NCANDS) so it may not take into account other sources of child deaths such as those through the law enforcement departments.
Other child abuse/neglect demographics include:
■ Victims in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 23.1 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population. Forty-seven percent of victims are under five.
■ Victimization was evenly split between the sexes, with boys accounting for 48.7 percent and girls accounting for 50.9 percent although the rate of child deaths was higher for boys (2.36 per 100,000) than girls (1.77 per 100,000).
■ Eighty seven percent of (unique count) victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities— African American (21.2 percent), Hispanic (22.4 percent), and White (44 percent).
The greatest percentage of children suffered from neglect, not abuse. A child may have suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment and was counted once for each maltreatment type. CPS investigations or assessments determined that for unique victims, found that more than 75 percent (79.5 percent) suffered neglect, 18 percent suffered physical abuse, and nine percent suffered sexual abuse.