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WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT?

Child abuse and neglect occurs when a child is mistreated, resulting in injury or risk of harm. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual.

Physical Abuse may be defined as any act which, regardless of intent, results in a non-accidental physical injury. Inflicted physical injury most often represents unreasonably severe corporal punishment. This usually happens when the parent is frustrated or angry and strikes, shakes or throws the child.

Physical Neglect is defined as the failure to provide for a child's physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety. This may include, but is not limited to: abandonment; lack of supervision; life endangering physical hygiene; lack of adequate nutrition that places the child below the normal growth curve; lack of shelter; or lack of medical or dental care that results in health threatening conditions.

Sexual Abuse Is defined as acts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors. Sexual abuse encompasses a broad range of behavior and may consist of many acts over a long period of time or a single incident. The nature of sexual abuse, the shame of the child victim, and the possible involvement of trusted parents, stepparents, or other persons in a caretaker role make it extremely difficult for children to come forward to report sexual abuse.

Emotional Abuse includes verbal assaults, ignoring and indifference or constant family conflict. If a child is degraded enough, the child will begin to live up to the image communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker.

Child abuse can happen anywhere; in poor, middle-class or well-to-do homes, in rural or urban areas.

REPORT DATA FROM 1997
  • Child protective service agencies nation-wide received almost 2 million reports of alleged child abuse and neglect.
  • An estimated 3 million children were reported as alleged victims of maltreatment.
  • Data from 49 States indicate a national maltreatment rate of 15 victims per 1,000 children in the population younger than 18.
  • Those forty-nine States reported that there were 523,049 victims of neglect; 244,903 victims of physical abuse; 126,095 victims of sexual abuse; and 44,648 victims of emotional maltreatment.
  • 26 percent of victims of maltreatment were 3 years old or younger. More than half of all victims were younger than 8 years old. About 26 percent of the victims were ages 8-12. Another 21 percent of the child victims of abuse and neglect were teenagers 13-18 years old.
  • 47 percent of the victims of maltreatment were male, and about 52 percent were female. The sex for less than 1 percent of the victims was not reported.
  • Forty-four States provided data on race/ethnicity. 55 percent of all victims were white; 27 percent were African American; 2 percent were Native American; 10 percent were Hispanic; and 1 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. 3 percent of all victims were of unknown racial/ethnic origin.
  • Forty-five States reported that 996 child fatalities resulted from child maltreatment. It is estimated that there were about 110 child fatalities per 100,000 child victims of maltreatment.
  • Based on the data from 44 States, 80 percent of perpetrators of child maltreatment were parents; 2 percent of perpetrators were caretakers; 10 percent were other relatives of the victim. About 5 percent of all perpetrators were noncaretakers.
  • Females were more often identified as perpetrators were than males. The mean age for male perpetrators was 37 years of age and for female perpetrators the mean was 34 years of age.
Maltreatment Reports

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