Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect is found in all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic segments of society. Each year, millions of children are reported to area children’s protective services or law enforcement authorities as suspected victims of child maltreatment. The following facts provide a general overview of the incidence of child abuse and neglect.1,4-6,8-10

  • In 2015, 49 states reported 1,670 deaths of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect. Younger children are the most vulnerable to death as the result of child abuse and neglect. Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years and the child fatality rate mostly decreased with age. Children who were younger than 1 year old died from maltreatment at a rate of 18.09 per 100,000 children in the population younger than 1 year.34
  • With the exception of a greater incidence of sexual abuse among females, both sexes are equally likely to be maltreated.
  • Approximately 60% of all substantiated cases of child maltreatment involve neglect of some form.
  • Physical abuse is found in approximately 20% of substantiated cases of child maltreatment and is responsible for over 50% of the child abuse related deaths each year.
  • Hospital studies have shown that between 65 and 75% of all non-accidental injuries to children involve the head, face, mouth, or neck, suggesting that dentists may come into contact with a significant number of abused children.
  • There is a decrease in both the frequency and severity of physical abuse with an increase in age.
  • Age appears to be a factor with regard to both type and location of injuries associated with physical abuse.