The latest data from HHS through the annual Child Maltreatment report indicates that the number of children substantiated as abused or neglected was 676,000 in 2016 compared to 683,000 in 2015. Consistent with the past several years the vast majority of children were victims of neglect (74.8 percent) compared to physical abuse (18.2 percent) or sexual abuse (8.5 percent) as well as several other categories such as psychological abuse and medical neglect. The totals represent more than 100 percent since many children are victims of several categories of maltreatment.
The report also indicates that there were 1,700 child abuse and neglect fatalities with an estimated total of 1750 (the report will estimate for all 50 states when some state data is missing). The estimated figure of 1750 represents an increased fatality rate per 100,000 children by 7.4 percent between 2012 and 2016. Some of the increase, however, may be due to new data collection efforts in regard to child deaths. Consistent with past information, 70 percent of child fatalities were of children under the age of three, with children under one most likely to die from child maltreatment. Boys had a higher fatality rate than girls (2.8 per 100, 0000 compared to 2.1 per 100,000). Forty-five percent of child fatalities were white, 28 percent African American and 13 percent Hispanic.
There were 3.5 million estimated total referrals, at a rate of 46.7 per 1000. The number of children who received a CPS response increased by 9.5 percent compared to 2012 with that rate increasing in each of the last five years. The youngest age groups were the most vulnerable with 28.5 percent children younger than 3. The rate was the highest for infants, 24.8 percent for children under age one.
For the first time, the report includes a deeper analysis of some risk factors due to new statistics being reported by states. The report indicates that child victims with a caretaker dealing with alcohol abuse fluctuated from 11.7 percent in 2014 to 11.5 percent in 2016. In regard to drug abuse, the report indicates that the number and percentage of caregiver drug abuse increased from 27.1 percent to 28.5 percent between 2014 to 2016 (these are the years in which the statistics are available). The report also includes some limited financial data, in 34 states reporting, 10 percent of child victims had caregivers who lived in inadequate housing. The percentage ranged from 2.2 percent to 33.9 percent.
The Bureau report also indicates that as a result of the 2016 CARA Act new data will be collected starting in 2018 regarding the number of infants identified as exposed to alcohol and other substances, the number of infants with a plan of safe care and the number of infants who were referred to appropriate services.