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May 2000Vol. 1, No. 3Most Recent National Statistics Show a Decrease in Incidents of Child Abuse and Neglect

The Department of Health and Human Services reported in April that the incidence rate of child abuse and neglect declined in 1998 for the fifth consecutive year. States reported 900,000 children abused and neglected in 1998, a number that DHHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala noted remains "unacceptably high."

Based on data reported by States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), HHS estimates that child protective service agencies received about 2,806,000 referrals of possible maltreatment in 1998. Of the 66 percent of those referrals investigated, States found that an estimated 903,000 children were victims of abuse and/or neglect. This number of children abused and neglected represents a drop of 11 percent since a record 1,018,692 in 1993.

The Department also reported the following findings for 1998 (Note: Because this is only the second year that many of these data have been required, not all States were able to provide data on every item):

  • Parents were most frequently the perpetrators of child abuse and neglect. More than 80 percent of victims were maltreated by one or both parents.
  • More than half of all victims (54 percent) suffered neglect, while almost a quarter (23 percent) suffered physical abuse.
  • Nearly 12 percent of the victims were sexually abused.
  • An estimated 1,100 children died of abuse and neglect, a rate of approximately 1.6 deaths per 100,000 children in the general populations.

In releasing the report HHS Assistant Secretary Olivia A. Golden cited the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and community-based prevention programs as key elements in efforts to protect children. According to available data for 1998, an estimated 1,397,000 children nationwide received preventive services, or 20 of every 1,000 children in the population.

HHS will soon be disseminating printed and electronic copies of the full report, Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System; check the June issue of CB Express for updates on the report's availability.

Related Item

For more information about prevention, visit the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at (Editor's note: this link is no longer available. Current child abuse prevention information and resources can be found at To obtain a packet of information about prevention, contact:

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
330 C St., SW
Washington, DC 20447
Tel.: 800-FYI-3366
Fax: 703-385-3206