image Visit coronavirus.govVisit disclaimer page for the latest Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) updates.
View ACF COVID-19 Responses and Resources
< Back to Search Results

How many children are abused and neglected each year?

Office:
CB
Categories:
Child Welfare
Topics:
Child Abuse and Neglect

Answer

The annual Child Maltreatment reports summarize child abuse and neglect statistics submitted by state child protective services (CPS) agencies to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). These data include only those children who were reported to CPS. The reports include information on the number of victims, sources of reports, types of maltreatment, victim demographics, child fatalities resulting from abuse or neglect, perpetrators, the child welfare workforce, and more. Both national and state-by-state data are provided.

In addition, the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) is a periodic research effort in a series of congressionally mandated reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assess the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the United States.

The primary objectives of the NIS-4 were to provide updated estimates of the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the United States and to measure changes in incidence from the earlier studies.

While the NIS reports include children who were investigated by CPS agencies nationwide, it also includes data from other community professionals (such as doctors, mental health providers, teachers, day care providers, law enforcement, etc.) who typically encounter children and families during the course of their work duties and who recognized children as having been maltreated. The data for the NIS-4 were derived from a nationally representative sample of 122 counties nationwide.

Also, the Child Welfare Outcomes reports, mandated by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, analyze the performance of state child welfare agencies on seven child welfare outcomes, including the recurrence of child abuse and neglect and the safety of children in foster care. All reports are accessible on the Children's Bureau website.

For a comprehensive listing of resources on child abuse and neglect statistics, please refer to the information provided by Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau.

Last Reviewed: July 10, 2020