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Child Abuse and Victimization

In 2002, an estimated 896,000 children were reported to be victims of child abuse and neglect. In 60.5 percent of the reported cases, the children had been neglected, 18.6 percent were physically abused, 9.9 percent were sexually abused, and 6.5 percent were emotionally or psychologically abused. (Children's Bureau, Administration for Children & Families. 2004. Child Maltreatment 2002. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

Children who were identified by Child Protective Services as victims in the past were 42 percent more likely to be determined to be maltreated than children who were not previously victimized. (Ibid.)

The majority of child victims were maltreated by a parent acting alone. Approximately two-fifths (40.3 percent) of child victims were maltreated by their mother; 19.1 percent were maltreated by their father; 18 percent were abused by their mother and father; and 13 percent were victimized by a non-parent. (Ibid.)

Child Protective Services received 2.6 million referrals of abuse and neglect in 2002, of which they accepted more than two-thirds for investigation. (Ibid.)

An estimated 1,400 children died as a result of abuse or neglect in 2002. Infants had the highest rates of mortality: nearly 19 deaths per 100,000 boys and 12 deaths per 100,000 girls. (Ibid.)

Younger children are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect. In 2002, children younger than one year accounted for 9.6 percent of the reported victimizations. The next largest group was children under the age of three who were victimized at rates of 16.0 per 1,000. (Ibid.)

In 2002, 48.1 percent of victimized children were boys and 51.9 percent were girls. The racial breakdown of child victims was 54.2 percent white; 26.1 percent African American; 11 percent Hispanic; 1.8 percent American Indian or Alaskan Natives; and 0.9 percent Asian-Pacific Islanders. (Ibid.)

The direct cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States totals more than $24 billion annually. (This figure includes law enforcement, judicial system, child welfare, and mental and physical health costs.) When factoring in indirect costs (special education, mental health and health care, juvenile delinquency, lost productivity, and adult criminality), the figure rises to more than $94 billion annually.
(Fromm, Suzette. 2001. “Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect.” Prevent Child Abuse America.)

Between 1996 and 2002, the number of active FBI investigations of online child pornography and child sexual exploitation increased from 113 to 2,370. (Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2003. Innocent Images National Initiative. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.)

Forty-seven percent of parents and 77 percent of teachers report that children are victimized by bullies. (National Parent Teachers Association. http://www.pta.org. Accessed August 25, 2004.)

Every day, between 1.3 million and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America. One out of every seven children will run away before the age of 18. (The National Runaway Switchboard. http://www.nrscrisisline.org/. Accessed September 14, 2004.)

Approximately 800,000 children were reported missing in 1999. Of those, 58,200 were abducted by non-family members, and 115 were victims of the most serious, long-term abductions. Of those 115, 56 percent were recovered alive and nearly half were sexually assaulted by the perpetrator.
(National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. 2002. Highlights from the NISMART Bulletins. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are April 10–16, 2005
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