Nearly one in eight American children are maltreated before age 18

By the time they reach age 18, about 12% of American children experience a confirmed case of maltreatment in the form of neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, according to a new study by researchers at Yale University.

The numbers are even more sobering for black and Native American children, with one in five black children and one in seven Native American children experiencing maltreatment during the time period studied. The results are published in the June 2 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The authors estimated the cumulative prevalence of confirmed by 18 using the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File, which includes information on all U.S. children with a confirmed report of maltreatment. Analysis of data between 2004 and 2011 showed that over 5.6 million had experienced maltreatment during this time period.

"Confirmed is dramatically underestimated in this country. Our findings show that it is far more prevalent than the 1 in 100 that is currently reported," said first author Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of sociology and faculty fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale.

Wildeman, his colleagues at other institutions, and in the Yale Departments of Pediatrics and Sociology, provide cumulative, rather than annual, estimates that confirmed child maltreatment is common.

"Maltreatment is on the scale of other major public health concerns that affect child health and well-being," he said. "Because child is also a risk factor for poor mental and physical health outcomes throughout life, the results of this study provide valuable epidemiologic information."

More information: JAMA Pediatrics, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.410

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The ties between child maltreatment and substance abuse

May 01, 2014

Sunny Shin, Ph.D., an associate professor in Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Social Work, has led a number of studies exploring the relationship between child maltreatment and adolescent substance ...

Child abuse rises with income inequality, study shows

Feb 11, 2014

As the Great Recession deepened and income inequality became more pronounced, county-by-county rates of child maltreatment – from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to traumatic brain injuries and death – worsened, ...

Study examines risk factors in recurrent child abuse, neglect

May 07, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—The shorter the intervals between previous child maltreatment incidents, the greater the likelihood that the child will experience abuse or neglect in the future, suggests a new study by a social work professor ...

Unemployment linked with child maltreatment

Oct 03, 2010

The stresses of poverty have long been associated with child abuse and neglect. In a study presented Sunday, Oct. 3, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco, researchers ...

Recommended for you

Unhealthy brands using Facebook to target young people

10 hours ago

World-first research by the University of Sydney reveals that junk food brands are engaging with young Facebook users to promote unhealthy foods which can contribute to obesity and lifestyle diseases.

Early intervention could boost education levels

11 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Taking steps from an early age to improve childhood education skills could raise overall population levels of academic achievement by as much as 5%, and reduce socioeconomic inequality in education by 15%, ...

User comments