Child abuse, neglect data released

Newly released federal data on child abuse and neglect shows an increase from Fiscal Year 2015 to 2016 in three key metrics: referrals to child protective services (CPS) agencies alleging maltreatment (3.6 percent), referrals CPS agencies accepted for investigation or alternative response (4.0 percent) and the number of children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response (3.3 percent).

The Children’s Bureau at HHS' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published the 27th edition of the Child Maltreatment Report, which analyzes data collected by state CPS agencies. The report is based on Fiscal Year 2016 data, which is the latest data available.

Of the 3.5 million children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response in Fiscal Year 2016, a national estimate of 676,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect, representing a 1.0 percent decrease from Fiscal Year 2015. In total, 74.8 percent of victims suffered neglect either by itself or in combination with any maltreatment type.

The number of children experiencing neglect decreased from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2016, while victims experiencing physical or sexual abuse have increased. 49 states reported 1,700 fatalities as a result of child maltreatment in Fiscal Year 2016, which is an increase from the 1,589 fatalities reported by 49 states in 2015.

“Helping state child welfare agencies prevent and address child abuse and neglect is one of our top priorities this year,” said Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for children and families at ACF. “Collaborating with state child protective services helps us collect case-level data to better understand what’s occurring in a home when a child is neglected or abused.”

When states submit their data, they also are afforded the opportunity to submit commentary that may provide context to the data published in the report. States’ commentaries suggest the implementation of alternative response, increased public awareness of child maltreatment and staff training in screening and assessment of child maltreatment referrals, led to the changes noted in the 2016 metrics.

“To be effective in reducing the incidence of child abuse and neglect, service providers need access to a range of support services that help to strengthen the protective capacities of families and increase flexibility of providers to tailor child welfare intervention to the needs of individual children,” said Jerry Milner, acting commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) and associate commissioner at the Children’s Bureau.

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 based upon data received from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

View the 2016 Child Maltreatment report and previous reports.

Quick Facts

  • Of the 3.5 million children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response in Fiscal Year 2016, a national estimate of 676,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect, representing a 1.0 percent decrease from Fiscal Year 2015.
  • 49 states reported 1,700 fatalities as a result of child maltreatment in Fiscal Year 2016, which is an increase from the 1,589 fatalities reported by 49 states in 2015.

Quotes

“Helping state child welfare agencies prevent and address child abuse and neglect is one of our top priorities this year.Collaborating with state child protective services helps us collect case-level data to better understand what’s occurring in a home when a child is neglected or abused.”
Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
“To be effective in reducing the incidence of child abuse and neglect, service providers need access to a range of support services that help to strengthen the protective capacities of families and increase flexibility of providers to tailor child welfare intervention to the needs of individual children."
Jerry Milner, Acting Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) and Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau.
Last Reviewed: February 1, 2018
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