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Child Maltreatment Victims:
Who Are They?

This report emanated from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCAN Clearinghouse), http://www.calib.com/nccanch, which in Fiscal Year 1998, was reorganized and merged with the Children's Bureau.  Additional information on the DCDC may be found in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. (1997). National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS): Detailed Case Data Component Guidelines and Procedures. Unpublished technical report.

 
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S ection 4 Child Maltreatment Victims:
Who Are They?

graphic of paper doll childrenVictims of maltreatment are children who have been the subjects of allegations of abuse or neglect that have been substantiated or indicated by a CPS agency. This section describes the numbers and rates of victims; types and rates of maltreatment; victim demographics such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity; and prior service histories.

4.1 Rate of Victimization (SDC)
Based on data from 44 States, it was estimated that there were approximately 984,000 victims of maltreatment (appendix E, table E–4), a decrease from more than 1 million victims in 1996 in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. The rate of child victims was 13.9 per 1,000 children in the general population in 1997, which is slightly higher than the rate of 13.4 victims per 1,000 children in 1990. The rate of child victims per 1,000 children has continued to drop since a peak in 1993 of 15.3 victims per 1,000 children in the general population (figure 4–1). Among States that reported data for 1997, 33.4 percent of all children who were the subjects of investigations were found to be victims of maltreatment.

Figure 4–1 Victimization Rates, 1990–1997 (SDC)

graph of victimization rates

graph of victimization rates

N=54 jurisdictions

4.2 Types of Maltreatment (SDC)
Forty-three States reported that there were 440,944 victims of neglect; 197,557 victims of physical abuse; and 98,339 victims of sexual abuse. There were 49,338 victims of psychological abuse or neglect; 18,894 victims of medical neglect; and 103,576 victims of unknown and other maltreatment.

Based on the number of child victims in the 41 reporting States (798,358), more than half of child victims (54.7 percent) were victims of neglect, while a quarter (24.5 percent) suffered physical abuse. Twelve percent were sexually abused. Child victims of psychological abuse or neglect or medical neglect accounted for 6.2 and 2.4 percent of all victims, respectively, while 11.0 percent were subjected to other types of maltreatment, such as "abandonment," "congenital drug addiction," and "threats to harm the child." Percentages add to more than 100 percent because children could have been victims of more than one type of abuse.

Data from 35 States were compared across years (figure 4–2). The proportion of victims who were neglected increased by 7.5 percentage points between 1990 and 1997. The proportion of those who were sexually abused declined by 4.8 percentage points, while the proportion of those physically abused declined by 2.3 percentage points. The proportion of victims who experienced other types of maltreatment increased by 2.5 percentage points.

Figure 4-2 Comparison of Victims by Type of Maltreatment, 1990 and 1997 (SDC)

Bar chart of distribution of victims by type of malteatment

Bar chart of distribution of victims by type of malteatment

1990: N=611,924 victims in 35 States
1997: N=689,513 victims in 35 States

4.3 Age and Sex of Victims (SDC)
In 40 States, infants were the largest single-year age group of maltreatment victims, accounting for 6.9 percent (figure 4–3). Each single-year age group from age 1–9 had about 6 percent of all victims. Each single-year age group between 10–14 accounted for approximately 5 percent of all victims.

When victims are grouped in 4-year age categories, those 4–7 years old were the highest proportion of victims (26.2 percent). Children 0–3 were 24.7 percent of victims; children 8–11 years old were 21.7 percent; children 12–15 years old were 18.6 percent; and children older than 16 were 6 percent.

Figure 4–3 Victims by Age, 1997 (SDC)

Bar chart showing distribution of victims by age

Bar chart showing distribution of victims by age

N=668,059 victims in 40 States

 

There were 316,842 male victims (47.4 percent) and 349, 606 female victims (52.3 percent). The sex of 2,609 victims (0.4 percent) was not reported. The percentage of victims by sex has remained stable over the 8 years of SDC data collection.

4.4 Victims by Type of Maltreatment by Age and by Sex (DCDC)
Based on case-level data from 16 States, age was related to type of maltreatment (table 4–1). Neglect victims were more likely to be younger children; 82,361 (63.0 percent) were younger than 8 years old. Conversely, victims of physical abuse and victims of sexual abuse were more likely to be age 8 or older—28,370 (58.9 percent) and 14,177 (64.0 percent), respectively.

Slightly more victims of physical abuse, neglect, and medical neglect were male (96,390) than were female (89,941). However, female victims of sexual abuse (17,185) outnumbered male victims of sexual abuse (5,262) three to one (table 4–2).

Table 4-1 Victims by Type of Maltreatment and Age (DCDC)

Age Group Maltreatment Total
Physical
Abuse
Neglect Medical Neglect Sexual Abuse Psychological Abuse Other Abuse Multiple Maltreatments
0-3 Count 7,599 44,471 3,136 2,048 2,263 12,532 12,415 84,464
% within Child Age 9.0% 52.7% 3.7% 2.4% 2.7% 14.8% 14.7% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 15.7% 34.0% 52.4% 9.2% 20.7% 31.8% 25.8% 27.6%
4-7 Count 12,296 37,890 1,143 5,968 2,936 10,596 12,802 83,631
% within Child Age 14.7% 45.3% 1.4% 7.1% 3.5% 12.7% 15.3% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 25.5% 29.0% 19.1% 26.9% 26.8% 26.9% 26.6% 27.4%
8-11 Count 11,272 27,017 889 5,539 2,889 8,387 10,914 66,907
% within Child Age 16.8% 40.4% 1.3% 8.3% 4.3% 12.5% 16.3% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 23.4% 20.7% 14.9% 25.0% 26.4% 21.3% 22.7% 21.9%
12-15 Count 13,212 16,989 635 6,515 2,301 6,372 9,604 55,628
% within Child Age 23.8% 30.5% 1.1% 11.7% 4.1% 11.5% 17.3% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 27.4% 13.0% 10.6% 29.4% 21.0% 16.2% 20.0% 18.2%
16+ Count 3,886 4,259 181 2,123 564 1,564 2,369 14,946
% within Child Age 26.0% 28.5% 1.2% 14.2% 3.8% 10.5% 15.9% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 8.1% 3.3% 3.0% 9.6% 5.1% 4.0% 4.9% 4.9%
Totals Count 48,265 130,626 5,984 22,193 10,953 39,451 48,104 305,576
% within Child Age 15.8% 42.7% 2.0% 7.3% 3.6% 12.9% 15.7% 100.0%
% within Maltreatment 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

 

 

Table 4-2 Victims by Type of Maltreatment and Sex (DCDC)

 

Maltreatment

Child Sex

Total

Male

Female


Physical Abuse

Count

25,269

23,495

48,764


% within Maltreatment

51.8%

48.2%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

17.0%

14.8%

15.9%

Neglect

Count

67,966

63,625

131,591


% within Maltreatment

51.6%

48.4%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

45.6%

40.1%

42.8%

Medical Neglect

Count

3,155

2,821

5,976


% within Maltreatment

52.8%

47.2%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

2.1%

1.8%

1.9%

Sexual Abuse

Count

5,262

17,185

22,447


% within Maltreatment

23.4%

76.6%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

3.5%

10.8%

7.3%

Psychological Abuse

Count

5,382

5,647

11,029.00


% within Maltreatment

48.8%

51.2%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

3.6%

3.6%

3.6%

Other Abuse

Count

19,147

20,183

39,330


% within Maltreatment

48.7%

51.3%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

12.9%

12.7%

12.8%

Multiple Maltreatments

Count

22,789

25,541

48,330


% within Maltreatment

47.2%

52.8%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

15.3%

16.1%

15.7%

Total

Count

148,970

158,497

307,467


% within Maltreatment

48.5%

51.5%

100.0%


% within Child Sex

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

 

4.5 Race and Hispanic Ethnicity of Victims (SDC)
Forty States provided data on race. Excluding victims classified as "other" or "unknown," two-thirds (66.7 percent) of all victims were white, 29.5 percent were African American, 2.5 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1.3 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. In 35 States, 13.3 percent of victims were Hispanic, compared to 18.8 percent of the population of these States.

The proportions of victims who were African American or American Indian/Alaska Native were two times greater than the proportions of those children in the general population (figure 4–4). The proportion of victims who were White or Asian/Pacific Islander was lower than the proportions of those children in the general population.

Figure 4–4 Comparison of Children in the Population and
Child Victims by Race, 1997 (SDC)

If this figure is blurry or difficult to read click here for a full-page version.
 

Bar chart showing comparison of children in the population and child victims by race

N = 585,512 victims in 40 States. Population data for children are 1997 estimates in the same 40 States. For comparison purposes, the SDC categories "Asian" and "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander" have been combined, and "Other" and "Unknown" have been excluded.

4.6 Prior Service Histories of Victims (SDC)
Some victims of maltreatment had received family preservation services or had been reunified with their families in the previous 5 years. Family preservation services include services to prevent placement, to support the reunification of children with their families, or to support continued placement in permanent living arrangements. Data from seven States indicate that

33,338 victims (24.2 percent) had received family preservation services within the previous 5 years (appendix E, table E–5). Data from nine States indicate that 9,224 victims (5.3 percent) had been previously reunited with their families (appendix E, table E–6).

 
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