Six Million Children Maltreated in 2009?

In 2009, an estimated 3.3 million referrals involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 6.0 million children were received by CPS agencies nationwide. Of these, CPS determined that at least one child was a unique victim of abuse and neglect in 702,000 cases. The rest were unsubstantiated or closed with no finding.

These and other data appear in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment 2009, the 20th in a series of reports designed to provide national statistics on child abuse and neglect.

Most states recognize four major types of maltreatment: neglect, physical abuse, psychological maltreatment, and sexual abuse. Although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, they also can occur in combination.

For 2009, professionals submitted three-fifths of reports. Professional report sources are persons who encountered the alleged child victim as part of their occupation, such as child daycare providers and medical personnel. Nonprofessional report sources are persons who did not have a relationship with the alleged victim based on their occupation and includes friends, neighbors, and relatives. “Other” report sources are persons who had a relationship with the alleged victim and includes clergy members, sports coaches, and camp counselors.

The three largest percentages of report sources were from such professionals as teachers (16.5%), law enforcement and legal personnel (16.4%), and social services staff (11.4%).

Anonymous sources (8.9%), other relatives (7.0%), parents (6.8%), and friends and neighbors (4.9%), accounted for nearly all of the nonprofessional reporters.

The following demographics are for unique victims.

  • Victims in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 20.6 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.
  • Victimization was split between the sexes with boys accounting for 48.2 percent and girls accounting for 51.1 percent. Less than 1 percent of victims had an unknown sex.
  • Eighty-seven percent of victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities—African-American (22.3%), Hispanic (20.7%), and White (44.0%).

As in prior years, the greatest proportion of children suffered from neglect. 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:

  • More than 75 percent (78.3%) suffered neglect;
  • More than 15 percent (17.8%) suffered physical abuse;
  • Less than 10 percent (9.5%) suffered sexual abuse; and
  • Less than 10 percent (7.6%) suffered from psychological maltreatment.

Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. Yet, each year children die from abuse and neglect. Forty-nine States reported a total of 1,676 fatalities. Based on these data, a nationally estimated 1,770 children died from abuse and neglect. Fatality analyses are performed for the unique count of children. Of the reported fatalities:

  • The overall rate of child fatalities was 2.34 deaths per 100,000 children;
  • Four-fifths (80.8%) of all child fatalities were younger than 4 years old;
  • Boys had a slightly higher child fatality rate than girls at 2.36 boys per 100,000 boys in the population and girls died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.12 per 100,000 girls in the population;
  • One-third (35.8%) of child fatalities were attributed to neglect exclusively; and
  • One-third (36.7%) of child fatalities were caused by multiple maltreatment types.

For the analyses included in this report, a perpetrator is the person who is responsible for the abuse or neglect of a child. Forty-nine States reported case-level data about perpetrators using unique identifiers. In these States, the total duplicate count of perpetrators was 894,951 and the total unique count of perpetrators was 512,790. For 2009:

  • Four-fifths (80.9%) of duplicate perpetrators of child maltreatment were parents, and another 6.3 percent were other relatives of the victim;
  • Of the duplicate perpetrators who were parents, four-fifths (84.7%) were the biological parents of the victim;
  • Women comprised a larger percentage of all unique perpetrators than men, 53.8 percent compared to 44.4 percent; and
  • Four-fifths (83.2%) of all unique perpetrators were between the ages of 20 and 49 years.

The full report is available on the Children’s Bureau website:

2 Replies to "Six Million Children Maltreated in 2009?"

  • Dale Kassan
    March 1, 2011 (9:52 am)

    Re: “Of these, CPS determined that at least one child was a unique victim of abuse and neglect in 702,000 cases. The rest were unsubstantiated or closed with no finding.” Do you have the actual number of indicated cases? I hate to think of all the cases that SHOULD HAVE BEEN INDICATED. Additionally, is anyone keeping numbers on the number of children living in homes where there is domestic violence(DV)? Exposing children to DV as witnesses and victims of emotional abuse is reportable to CPS, as of course, are the children who are physically and sexually abused in the household by the abuser. The statement above leaves the number of indicated cases unknown.

  • bad link at end of article
    April 9, 2011 (6:26 pm)

    bad link at end of article