Special Feature: Child Abuse

Child Abuse - child

Child maltreatment is a broad term that covers all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role, such as a coach or teacher.

In 2015, more than three million children were the subject of an investigation or similar response by child protective services, resulting in nearly 700,000 reported victims of child abuse and neglect. Of the victims, more than 75 percent were suffering from neglect, about 17 percent were victims of physical abuse, and more than 8 percent were sexually abused.

The negative consequences of child maltreatment are wide-ranging. Maltreatment is associated with lower school achievement, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and mental health problems. Abuse can result in long-term physical, social, and emotional problems, or death. A nationally estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in 2015. Nearly 75 percent of these victims were younger than 3-years-old.

Young victims of crime are generally underserved, and the systems responsible for caring for them can be fragmented and ineffective for youth and their families. The Office for Victims of Crime is committed to improving services for all victims of crime, including victims of child abuse and neglect.

For service providers and advocates, child maltreatment cases present difficult and stressful situations. Law enforcement personnel are responsible for protecting children and often have the difficult task of determining if a child's injury is accidental or deliberately inflicted. Not only do judges presiding over child abuse and neglect cases have considerable managerial and directive functions, but they also must be concerned with principles of treatment, rehabilitation, family preservation, and permanency planning while ensuring a child's safety.

Despite the violence and abuse that some youth may have already experienced in their short lives, children are resilient. Every person in a child's life can play a role in helping to protect them and help them heal.

In October 2016, the Justice Department launched Changing Minds, a national campaign to raise awareness, teach skills, and inspire public action to address children's exposure to violence and the resulting trauma.

Additionally, NIJ supports research that focuses on children exposed to violence in order to inform the development and enhancement of strategies to reduce the impact of violence on children and youth. And, through CrimeSolutions.gov, NIJ provides evaluations of programs and practices on different topics, including those that relate to child protection and exposure to violence.

Through the release of several solicitations, OJP bureau and offices are currently accepting applications for funding to support research and efforts. For example, NIJ is accepting applications until May 8, 2017, for research and evaluation proposals related to children exposed to violence. And, OJJDP is seeking applications for the VOCA Training and Technical Assistance for Child Abuse Professionals opportunity (apply by May 11, 2017). Additionally, OVC has released the Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth State Demonstration Program solicitation (apply by May 11, 2017). Visit the OJP Funding Resources page for additional opportunities.

To learn more, select a topic from the section at the right under the heading "Child Abuse."