Child abuse, neglect data released

January 19, 2017

New federal data on child abuse and neglect was released today by HHS' Administration for Children and Families, which analyzes data collected by state child protective services (CPS) agencies.

The report shows an increase from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2015 in three key metrics: numbers of referrals to CPS agencies alleging maltreatment (4.7 percent), number of referrals that CPS agencies accepted for investigation or alternative response (3.4 percent), and number of children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response (3.0 percent).

Of the 3.4 million children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response, 683,000 were determined to be victims of a combination of maltreatments, such as neglect and physical abuse. Alternatively, of the 683,000 victims, 63.4 percent suffered only neglect.

When states submit their data, they are afforded the opportunity to submit commentary that may provide context to the data published in the report. The states’ commentaries suggest the increases were driven by various factors, including the implementation of new intake (hotline or call centers), screening tools and improved staff training. Additionally, some states noted high-profile cases increased public awareness of maltreatment, which led to an increase in referrals.

The child maltreatment report is from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). NCANDS is a voluntary national data collection and analysis program of state child abuse and neglect information. The 2015 national statistics are based upon data received from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Quick Facts

  • In Fiscal Year 2015, approximately 683,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect, representing a 1.2 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2014.
  • At the state level, the change to victim counts from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2015 ranged from a 25.5 percent decrease to a 56.8 percent increase; four states had a percent increase larger than 20.0 percent.


“In 2015, there were an estimated 3.4 million children who were the subjects of at least one report of abuse and neglect, which is a 3.0 percent increase from last year."
— Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
"As in prior years, the vast majority of the victims’ cases (63.4 percent) involve neglect and not abuse. However, both forms of child maltreatment can have serious life-long consequences on a child’s mental, physical, and social well-being.”
— Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families


Administration for Children & Families
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