Child Abuse/Neglect in California: Rate of Verified Cases Has Fallen 28% Since 1999
California's rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases declined steadily from 1999 to 2013, consistent with national trends. From 1999 to 2013, the statewide rate of substantiated cases fell 28%, from 12.4 to 8.9 cases per 1,000 children under age 18.
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Child welfare experts differ on the reasons for the decline, but researchers note that heightened public awareness and prevention programs, as well as changes in how cases are investigated, may play a role.
Children ages 5 and under make up half of all substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect in California; they comprised 47% of all cases in 2013, up from 40% in 1998.
In 2013, there were 482,265 allegations of child abuse and neglect in California. Of those cases, 17% were substantiated (verified) by the state child welfare system. Nearly 65% of these verified cases were due to general neglect rather than physical injury. Neglect consistently has been the most common type of substantiated case statewide and in nearly all counties for which these data are available. The percentage that neglect cases comprise has been increasing since 1998. Other types of abuse, such as physical and sexual abuse, account for smaller shares.
Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness domestic violence, often exhibit emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, difficulty in school, use of alcohol and other drugs, and early sexual activity.
Statewide, child abuse and neglect cases disproportionately involve children of color, particularly African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children.
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See Child Abuse and Neglect Data in Your Community
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care Research, Office of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Chapin Hall at University of Chicago
Child Welfare League of America
California Child Welfare Indicators Project, California Department of Social Services & UC Berkeley, Center for Social Services Research
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
Child Maltreatment Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect
Years: 1999 to 2013