Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress

Published: January 15, 2010
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care
National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), 2004-2009 | Learn more about this project
NIS-4 Report to Congress

The National Incidence Study (NIS) is a congressionally mandated, periodic effort of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 1974, Public Law (P.L.) 93–247 mandated the first NIS (NIS–1), which collected data in 1979 and 1980. The NIS–2 was mandated under P.L. 98–457 (1984) and collected data in 1986. The NIS–3, mandated by the Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1988 (P.L. 100–294) and the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption and Family Services Act of 1992 (P.L. 102–295), collected data in 1993. The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36) mandated the NIS–4, which collected data in 2005 and 2006. The principal objectives of the NIS–4 were to provide updated estimates of the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the United States and measure changes in incidence from the earlier studies.

The NIS serves as the nation’s needs assessment on child abuse and neglect. It offers a unique perspective on the scope of the problem beyond the children that child protective service (CPS) agencies investigate. While the NIS includes children who were investigated by CPS agencies, it also obtains data on other children who were not reported to CPS or who were screened out by CPS without investigation. These additional children were recognized as maltreated by community professionals. Thus, the NIS estimates include both abused and neglected children who are in the official CPS statistics and those who are not.