Child Abuse Statistics

Although decreasing, child abuse affects 9.2 in every 1,000 kids

a young boy with black eye
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Although the incidence of child abuse and neglect has been decreasing, at least 678,000 children, or almost 9.2 in every 1,000 children in the United States, were abused in 2018, according to the Children’s Bureau.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse which affects about 60% of child abuse victims. Neglect is defined as a parent or guardian fails to provide for their child's basic needs. Forms of neglect include medical, educational, physical, and emotional neglect.

If you are a victim of child abuse or know someone who might be, call or text the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 to speak with a professional crisis counselor.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Another 10.7% were physically abused; 7% were sexually abused; more than 15% were victims of two or more types of maltreatment. In 2018, roughly 1,770 children died as a result of child abuse or neglect.

Child Abuse Demographics

No group of children is immune from being a victim of child abuse or neglect, although girls are more often the victims than boys. For all other types of abuse and neglect, statistics are about equal for boys and girls. Although children of all ages experience abuse and neglect, it is the youngest children that are the most vulnerable; 26.7 per 1,000 children are victims of child abuse and neglect in their first year of life.

Children of all races and ethnicities can be victims of child abuse. In 2018, American Indian or Alaska Native children had the highest rate of victimization (15.2 per 1,000 children) and African American children have the second-highest rate (14 per 1,000 children).

Children whose parents are unemployed have about two times the rate of child abuse and two to three times the rate of neglect than children with employed parents. Living with their married biological parents places kids at the lowest risk for child abuse and neglect while living with a single parent and a live-in partner increased the risk of abuse and neglect to more than eight times that of other children.

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

In 2018, more than half (67.3%) of all child abuse cases and reports made to CPS agencies came from professionals who came in contact with the child including teachers, lawyers, police officers, and social workers. Many people in these professions are required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect.

However, many reports came from non-professional sources, such as parents, other relatives, friends, and neighbors. Anonymous reports accounted for 16.1% of all reports.

We all share a responsibility to help keep children safe as we take steps to prevent child abuse from occurring in the first place.

It is important for everyone to know the signs of child abuse and how to report it. The average time for CPS to initiate a response to a report of child abuse is 73 hours, although they might respond to a high-priority case in just 24 hours.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Maltreatment 2018. Updated January 2020.

  2. Sedlak AJ, Mettenburg J, Basena M, et al. Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4): Report to Congress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. 2010.

  3. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect. 2017. 

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.