presents excerpts from Child Maltreatment
2003, a report based on data submissions
by the States for Federal Fiscal Year
2003. The National Child Abuse and
Neglect Data System was developed
by the Children's Bureau of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services
in partnership with the States to
collect annual statistics on child
maltreatment from State child protective
services (CPS) agencies.1
The press release
announcing these data is available
on the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services website at
The full Child Maltreatment 2003 report
is available on the Children's Bureau
Limited print copies are available
from the National Clearinghouse on
Child Abuse and Neglect Information.
An estimated 906,000
children were determined to be victims
of child abuse or neglect in 2003.
The rate of victimization per 1,000
children in the national population
has dropped from 13.4 children in
1990 to 12.4 children in 2003.
More than 60 percent
of child victims experienced neglect.
Almost 19 percent were physically
abused, 10 percent were sexually abused,
and 5 percent were emotionally maltreated.
In addition, 17 percent were associated
with "other" types of maltreatment,
based on specific State laws and policies.
Children ages birth
to 3 years had the highest rates of
victimization at 16.4 per 1,000 children
of the same age group. Girls were
slightly more likely to be victims
American Indian or Alaska Native,
and African-American children had
the highest rates of victimization
when compared to their national population.
While the rate of White victims of
child abuse or neglect was 11.0 per
1,000 children of the same race, the
rate for Pacific Islanders was 21.4
per 1,000 children, the rate for American
Indian or Alaska Natives was 21.3
per 1,000 children, and the rate for
African-Americans was 20.4 per 1,000
Reports of Child
Abuse and Neglect
In 2003, an estimated
2.9 million referrals concerning the
welfare of approximately 5.5 million
children were made to CPS agencies
throughout the United States. Of these,
approximately two-thirds (an estimated
1.9 million) were accepted for investigation
or assessment; one-third were not
More than one-half
(57 percent) of all reports that alleged
child abuse or neglect were made by
such professionals as educators, law
enforcement and legal personnel, social
services personnel, medical personnel,
mental health personnel, child daycare
providers, and foster care providers.
Such nonprofessionals as friends,
neighbors, and relatives submitted
approximately 43 percent of reports.
percent of the reports that were investigated
included at least one child who was
found to be a victim of abuse or neglect.
Fifty-eight percent of the reports
were found to be unsubstantiated (including
those that were intentionally false);
the remaining reports were closed
for additional reasons.
are the most tragic consequence of
maltreatment. For 2003, an estimated
1,500 children died due to abuse or
neglect. More than three-quarters
(79 percent) of children who were
killed were younger than 4 years old;
10 percent were 4 to 7 years old;
5 percent were 8 to 11 years old;
and 6 percent were 12 to 17 years
Infant boys (younger
than 1 year) had the highest rate
of fatalities, with nearly 18 deaths
per 100,000 boys of the same age in
the national population. Infant girls
(younger than 1 year) had a rate of
14 deaths per 100,000. The overall
rate of child fatalities was 2 deaths
per 100,000 children. More than one-third
of child fatalities were attributed
to neglect. Physical abuse also was
a major contributor to fatalities.
percent of perpetrators were parents.
Other relatives accounted for 6 percent,
and unmarried partners of parents
accounted for 4 percent of perpetrators.
The remaining perpetrators included
persons with other (camp counselor,
school employee, etc.) or unknown
relationships to the child victims.
who were mostly mothers, were typically
younger than male perpetrators, who
were mostly fathers. Women also comprised
a larger percentage of all perpetrators
than men: 58 percent compared to 42
Of all parents who
were perpetrators, fewer than 3 percent
were associated with sexual abuse.
More than three-quarters of perpetrators
who were friends or neighbors committed
percent of victims and 25 percent
of nonvictims received services as
a result of an investigation or assessment.
Additional analyses indicated that
children who were prior victims of
maltreatment were 52 percent more
likely to receive services than first-time
victims. Additionally, children with
multiple types of maltreatment were
73 percent more likely to receive
services than children who were victims
of physically abuse only.
both in-home and foster care services.
Approximately 15 percent of child
victims were placed in foster care.
About 3 percent of nonvictims also
experienced a removal-usually a short-term
placement during the course of the
agencies respond to referrals regarding
harm to children caused by parents
or primary caregivers. Incidents of
harm to children caused by other people,
such as acquaintances and strangers,
are not included in these data. back
2 These numbers add up
to more than 100 percent because some
children were victims of more than
one type of maltreatment.