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April 2010Vol. 11, No. 3HHS Releases 2008 Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Maltreatment 2008, an annual report of data collected from the States' child protective services (CPS) agencies via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The report provides national and State statistics on topics that include reports of abuse and neglect, child characteristics, fatalities, perpetrators, and services provided to children and families.

According to the new report:

  • An estimated 772,000 children were found to be victims of abuse or neglect during 2008, representing a rate of 10.3 per 1,000 children in the population. This number shows a continued decline from 2006, when 905,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment.
  • An estimated 3.3 million referrals were made to CPS agencies in 2008, involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 6.0 million children.
  • Agencies screened in 62.5 percent of the referrals for investigation or assessment; as a result, at least one child was found to be a victim of abuse or neglect in 23.7 percent of those investigations or assessments.
  • Of the children who were abused or neglected in 2008, 71.1 percent experienced neglect, 16.1 percent were physically abused, 9.1 percent were sexually abused, and 7.3 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated. A child may have suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment and was counted once for each maltreatment type.
  • Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 21.7 per 1,000 for children of the same age group in the national population.
  • An estimated 1,740 children died from abuse or neglect, reflecting a rate of 2.33 deaths per 100,000 children.
  • Approximately 80.1 percent of perpetrators were parents, and another 6.5 percent were other relatives.
  • An estimated 63.3 percent of victims and 28.5 percent of nonvictims received postinvestigation services, and 20.9 percent of victims and 3.6 percent of nonvictims were placed in foster care.
  • Court-appointed representatives were assigned to 14.7 percent of victims.

To download the full report on national and State statistics, visit the Children's Bureau website:

To read the Administration for Children and Families' press release, visit: