Child Maltreatment

•In 2012, U.S. state and local child protective services (CPS) received an estimated 3.4 million referrals of children being abused or neglected.

•CPS estimated that 686,000 children (9.2 per 1,000) were victims of maltreatment.

•Of the child victims, 78% were victims of neglect; 18% of physical abuse; 9% of sexual abuse; and 11% were victims of other types of maltreatment, including emotional and threatened abuse, parent’s drug/alcohol abuse, or lack of supervision.

•CPS reports of child maltreatment may underestimate the true occurrence. A non-CPS study estimated that 1 in 4 U.S. children experience some form of child maltreatment in their lifetimes.

•The total lifetime economic burden resulting from new cases of fatal and nonfatal child maltreatment in the United States is approximately $124 billion.

Deaths from Child Maltreatment

. In 2012, an estimated 1,640 children died from child maltreatment (rate of 2.2 per 100,000 children).

• Of the children who died from maltreatment in 2012, 70% experienced neglect and 44% experienced physical abuse either exclusively or in combination with another form of maltreatment.

• Of child maltreatment fatalities in 2012, 70% occurred among children younger than age 3.

• The fatality rate for boys was 2.5 per 100,000 and for girls was 1.9 per 100,000.

• The 2012 rates of death per 100,000 children was 4.7 for African Americans, 4.7 for Pacific Islanders, 2.2 for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 1.7 for Hispanics, 1.6 for non-Hispanic Whites, and 0.6 for Asians.

Characteristics of Victims

• In 2012, 27% of victims were younger than 3 years, 20% of victims were age 3-5 years, with children younger than 1 year having the highest rate of victimization (21.9 per 1,000 children).

•The rates of victimization in 2012 were 8.7 per 1,000 children for boys and 9.5 per 1,000 children for girls.

•The 2012 rates of victimization per 1,000 children were 14.2 for African Americans, 12.4 for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 10.3 for
Multiracial, 8.7 for Pacific Islanders, 8.4 for Hispanics, 8.0 for non-Hispanic Whites, and 1.7 for Asians.


Characteristics of Perpetrators

• Four-fifths (80.3%) of perpetrators were parents, 6.1 percent were relatives other than parents, and 4.2 percent were unmarried partners of parents.

• In 2012, 82% of perpetrators were between the ages of 18 and 44 years inclusive. Fewer than 3% of perpetrators were aged < 18 years; 19% were aged 18–24 years; 40% were aged 25–34 years; 23% were aged 35–44 years; 9% were aged 45–54 years; and 4% were aged 55- 75.

•In 2012, 54% of perpetrators were women and 45% of perpetrators were men.



1.         U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment 2012 [online]. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 2012. Available from
2.         Finkelhor D, Turner HA, Ormond R, Hamby SL. Violence, crime, and abuse exposure in a national sample of children and youth: an update. JAMA Pediatr 2013; 167(7):614-621. doi:10.1001/ jamapediatrics.2013.42.
3.         Fang X, Brown DS, Florence CS, Mercy JA. The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse and Neglect 2012; 36:156-165.