Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.

Most runaways, adolescent prostitutes and teenage delinquent’s report having been victims of some form of child abuse, and it is reported that a majority of violent criminals suffered abuse, either physical and/or sexual as children.

Abuse robs children of the opportunity to develop healthy, trusting relationships with adults, contributes to low self-esteem, and impairs healthy psycho-social development. Indeed, the effects of childhood abuse often last a lifetime.

The term “child abuse” can be defined as any behavior directed toward a child by a parent, guardian, care giver, other family member, or other adult, that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development.

While child abuse and neglect affect all segments of society and know no socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, or religious boundaries, included among the factors which often contribute to child abuse are alcohol and substance abuse, lack of parenting skills, economic difficulties or poverty, domestic violence and previous victimization.

Child abuse includes four major categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.

Statistics

  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
  • *More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.
  • 14% of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
  • 36% of all women in prison were abused as children.
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.