Download & Other Tools
- Definition: Number of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases for children under age 18.Rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases per 1,000 children under age 18.
- Data Source: Needell, B., et al. (May 2014). Child Welfare Services Reports for California, UC Berkeley Center for Social Services Research; U.S. data come from Child Trends analysis of Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System data through the National Data Archive on Child Abuse & Neglect, as cited on KIDS COUNT (Apr. 2013).
- Footnote: A child is counted only once (per year, per county). For rates, LNE (Low Number Event) refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 20 cases of child abuse. N/A means that data are not available.
- Measures of Child Abuse and Neglect on Kidsdata.org
Child abuse and neglect indicators are broken into two broad categories: the rate of child abuse and neglect reports and the rate of substantiated cases. Generally speaking, most reports of child abuse are not in the end substantiated by Child Protective Services after an investigation. Typically, as the public becomes more aware of child maltreatment and how to report it, the rate of reports goes up. The rate of substantiated cases is generally a more accurate measure of the prevalence of abuse and neglect because it reflects verified reports. On kidsdata.org, reports and substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect are provided overall, and by age, race/ethnicity, and type of abuse.
- Child Abuse and Neglect
- Births to Unmarried Women (California & U.S. Only)
- Child Population
- Children in Rural and Urban Areas (California & U.S. Only)
- Public School Enrollment
- Total Population
- Dating and Domestic Violence
- Disconnected Youth
- Foster Care
- First Entries into Foster Care
- Number of Children in Foster Care
- Length of Time from Foster Care to Adoption, by Length of Time to Adoption
- Median Number of Months in Foster Care
- Placement Distances from Home
- Placement Stability, by Number of Placements
- Re-entries into Foster Care
- Exit Status After One Year in Foster Care
- Exit Status After Four Years in Foster Care
- Why This Topic Is Important
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 (1, 2). Abuse, particularly experienced when children are young, causes stress that can disrupt early brain and physical development, placing mistreated young children at higher risk for health problems as adults (2, 3). Children who are abused or neglected also are more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by entering into violent relationships as teens and adults or abusing their own children (1). An estimated 686,000 U.S. children were victims of maltreatment in 2012, and approximately 1,640 of these children died from abuse or neglect (7).
Child abuse and neglect are underreported and occur in families of all socioeconomic levels and ethnic groups (4, 5). Major risk factors for child abuse/neglect victims include being under 4 years old and having special needs. Family and community risk factors include parental substance abuse, parental mental illness, major stress (e.g. poverty, social isolation), domestic violence, and unsafe neighborhoods (5, 6). Research shows that in 30% to 60% of homes with either domestic violence or child abuse cases, it is likely that both types of abuse are occurring (4).For more information on child abuse see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.pdf
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (2014). Child maltreatment: Consequences. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/consequences.html
3. Middlebrooks, J. S., & Audage, N. C. (2008). The effects of childhood stress on health across the lifespan. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/pdf/Childhood_Stress.pdf
4. DePanfilis, D. (2006). Child neglect: A guide for prevention, assessment, and intervention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/neglect/
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (2014). Understanding child maltreatment: Fact sheet. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/understanding-cm-factsheet.pdf
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (2014). Child maltreatment: Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/riskprotectivefactors.html
7. Children's Bureau. (2013). Child maltreatment 2012. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2012
- How Children Are Faring
In 2013, there were 482,265 reports (allegations) of child abuse and neglect in California. Of those cases, 81,381, or 17%, were substantiated (verified) by the state child welfare system. Nearly 65% of these verified cases were due to general neglect, which includes cases where the parent, guardian, or caregiver failed to provide adequate food, shelter, medical care, or supervision for the child, but no physical injury occurred. Neglect consistently has been the most common type of substantiated case statewide and in nearly all counties for which these data are available. California’s rate of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect declined from 12.0 cases per 1,000 children ages 0-17 in 1998 to 8.9 in 2013. Children ages 0-5 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.
Statewide, child abuse and neglect cases disproportionately involve children of color, particularly African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children. For more information on racial disproportionality and inequities in child welfare, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway and a recent synthesis of research on the issue.
- Policy Implications
Children at risk of maltreatment, and those already in the child welfare system, interact with a range of public and private systems that can help prevent child abuse, mitigate its effects, and help them obtain permanent, safe homes. Child maltreatment is a societal problem with substantial economic consequences for both individuals and communities (1). Policymakers have a role in helping to prevent child maltreatment, as well as in ensuring early detection and reporting of abuse and neglect.
According to research and subject experts, policies that could aid in the prevention of child abuse and neglect include:
For more research to support policy on child abuse prevention and foster care, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, and California Fostering Connections. For implementation tools, see Child Welfare League of America.
- Providing a range of prevention services, including accurate risk assessment, parenting education, and home-visiting services, to families with children at risk of abuse or neglect (3, 4, 5)
- Implementing, expanding, and funding “differential response,” in which child protective service agencies have different levels of response to child abuse/neglect reports, depending on the severity of the allegations and the families’ particular needs; this approach recognizes the variation in the nature of reports, and the value of tailoring services to meet different needs (5)
- Providing an accessible system of mental health services for children in foster care or at imminent risk of entering care (2), and creating incentives for child welfare agencies to ensure that young children in their care receive early assessments and referrals for mental health issues (6)
- Supporting effective strategies to reduce the overrepresentation of children of color entering the child welfare system, especially African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children (7)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Fang, X., et al. (2012). The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 156–165. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213411003140
2. California Department of Social Services. Family Centered Services. (2013). Katie A. v. Bonta. Retrieved from: http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/pg1320.htm
3. McLanahan, S., et al. (2009). Preventing child maltreatment. The Future of Children, Princeton-Brookings, 19(2). Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/19_02_FullJournal.pdf
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Preventing child maltreatment through the promotion of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and caregivers. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/CM_Strategic_Direction--Long-a.pdf
5. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2008). Differential response to reports of child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue_briefs/differential_response/differential_response.pdf
6. Cooper, J., et al. (2010). Addressing the mental health needs of young children in the child welfare system: What every policymaker should know. National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_968.html
7. Miller, O. (2009). Reducing racial disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children and families of color in the child welfare system. Casey Family Programs. Retrieved from: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/pdf/BreakthroughSeries_ReducingDisproportionality_process.pdf
- Websites with Related Information
- Abuse, Neglect, Adoption and Foster Care Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente
- Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
- Child Maltreatment Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Child Trends: Child Welfare
- Child Welfare, CLASP
- Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Chapin Hall Center at University of Chicago
- Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Child Welfare League of America
- Mental Health & Child Welfare: Katie A. v. Bonta, California Department of Social Services
- National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect
- PolicyforResults.org, Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Prevent Child Abuse America
- State Child Welfare Policy Database, Casey Family Programs
- Key Reports
- A Better Start: Child Maltreatment Prevention as a Public Health Priority, 2010, Zero to Three, Zimmerman & Mercy
- Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare, 2011, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Child Maltreatment, 2012, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau
- Disparities and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Analysis of the Research, 2011, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Call for Multi-System Collaboration in California, 2013, California Child Welfare Council, Walker, K.
- How the Child Welfare System Works, 2013, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States, 3/2014, Pediatrics, Eckenrode, J., et al.
- Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships as a Moderator of Intergenerational Continuity of Child Maltreatment: A Meta-Analysis, 10/2013, Schofield, T. J., et al.
- The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention, 2/2012, Child Abuse & Neglect, Fang, X. et al.
- The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress, 1/2012, American Academy of Pediatrics, Shonkoff, J. P., et al.
- The Prevalence of Confirmed Maltreatment Among US Children, 2004 to 2011, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics, Wildeman, C., et al.
- Violence, Crime, and Abuse Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth: An Update, 5/2013, JAMA Pediatrics, Finkelhor, D., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card: Santa Monica, California, 2014, Cradle to Career Working Group
- Children's Report Card: Sacramento County Children's Coalition, 2013
- Fresno Community Scorecard, Fresno Business Council and ValleyPBS
- Kern County Report Card, 2014, Kern County Network for Children
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2014
- San Diego County Report Card on Children & Families, 2013, The Children's Initiative and Johnson Group Consulting, Inc.
- Santa Barbara County Children's Scorecard, 2011, Santa Barbara County KIDS Network
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2014 Data Book, 2014, Planned Parenthood and Kids in Common
- Solano County Children's Report Card, 2013, Children's Network
- Tulare County Children’s Report Card 2010, 2011, Children's Services Network
- More Data Sources For Child Abuse and Neglect
- America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, Forum on Child and Family Statistics, Childstats.gov
- California Child Welfare Indicators Project, California Department of Social Services & UC Berkeley, Center for Social Services Research
- Knowing the Numbers: Accessing and Using Child Welfare Data, 9/2014, Child Trends, Vandivere, S., & DeVooght, K.
- The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States, 2013, Child Trends, Murphey, D., Cooper, M., & Forry, N.