April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month


Child Abuse Prevention 3 April is National Child Abuse Prevention MonthMost people when asked, “How would you define a child who has been abused?” would most likely think of the physical part of the child. This is because bruises are what you can see. Most parents would say, “I can see that this child has bruises, and the bruises never seem to go away.” Most people forget about the mental part and the neglected part of a child who is being abused in some way. Just because you can see a child who has bruises that were caused by abuse does not mean that you will always be able to see the bruises. This is why most people say they never thought that it was happening. Also, sexual abuse occurs with children as well and that is also just as hard to identify.

I then get asked from parents, nannies and friends that they have no idea what to look for or even how to identify a child that could need their help.

The signs and signals of physical abuse with a child can be bruising or scarring of the body that was not caused by the child’s play. The emotional or sexual abuse signs and signals are much harder to identify and to recognize. These kinds of abused children will often have difficulty socializing, sleeping, or have changes in their normal behavior. Even bed wetting will be present in some children. If you have any concerns, take your child to his or her doctor and get some support.

If it is not your child, the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has set up the Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Hotline at 1-800-922-5330. Knoll and Robbins advise calling 911 if a child is in immediate danger. I always say its better safe than sorry.

I was doing research on the statistics of child abuse and found this eye-opening:

Child Abuse Stats, hosted by childabuse.com

Compiled March 2003 by Childhelp USA®


Each day in the United States, more than 3 children die as a result of child abuse in the home.

In 1998, an estimated 1,100 children died of abuse and neglect—an average of more than 3 children per day.
(Victims known to child protective services agencies, which track abuse and neglect in the home.) 1

Most of the children who die are younger than 5 years of age.

Of these fatalities, more than three-quarters were under the age of five; 38 percent of the children were under the age of one. 1

More children (age four and younger) die from child abuse and neglect than any other single, leading cause of death for infants and young children.

This includes falls, choking on food, suffocation, drowning, residential fires, and motor vehicle accidents.2


Approximately 3 million child abuse reports are made each year.

In 1998, approximately 2.8 million child abuse reports were received by local child protective services (CPS) agencies. 1

Child abuse is reported—on average—every 10 seconds.

Based on 2.8 million reports per year.1

Two-thirds of the reported cases were investigated. An estimated 903,000 victims of maltreatment were substantiated by child protective services agencies in 1998. 1

Nine in 10 Americans polled regard child abuse as a serious problem, yet only 1 in 3 reported abuse when confronted with an actual situation.3

This supports an earlier report in which the actual incidence of abuse and neglect was estimated to be 3 times greater than the number reported to authorities.4


In 1998, one-quarter (25.3 percent) of victims suffered more than one type of maltreatment. 1
These included:

Neglect 53.5%
Physical Abuse 22.7%
Sexual Abuse 11.5%
Emotional Abuse Approx. 6%
Medical Neglect Approx. 6%


Convicted rape and sexual assault offenders serving time in State prisons report that two-thirds of their victims were under the age of 18. 5

One of every seven victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were under age six. 6

Among rape victims less than 12 years of age, 90% of the children knew the offender, according to police-recorded incident data.5

Frequently, the person who sexually molests a child is also a child. 6

40% of the offenders who sexually assaulted children under age 6 were juveniles (under the age of 18). 6


Nearly one-half of substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse are associated with parental alcohol or drug abuse. 7

It is estimated that one in every four children in the United States (28 million) are living in a household with an alcoholic adult.8

Men and women serving time in the nation’s prisons and jails report a higher incidence of abuse as children than the general population.9

More than a third of women in the nation’s prisons and jails reported abuse as children, compared with 12% to 17% for women in the general population. About 14% of male inmates reported abuse as children, compared with 5% to 8% of men in the general population. 9


1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2000). Online statistical fact sheets: www.calib.com/nccanch/pubs/index.htm

2A Nation’s Shame: Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States (Published April 1995, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect). Based upon figures from the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3National poll conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland for Los Angeles-based Children’s Institute International (CII). Results released June 3, 1999. www.childrensinstitute.org (Press Release: How America Defines Child Abuse).

4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect: Final Report (NIS-3) (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, September 1996).

5 From more than two dozen statistical datasets maintained by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program of the FBI. Available online from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). Located in publications section under: “Sex Offenses and Offenders” Jan.-Feb. 97. NCJ 163392

6Findings from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Data based on reports from law enforcement agencies for years 1991 through 1996. Available online from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). Located in the publications section under: “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics” July 2000. NCJ 182990

7Child Welfare League of America: Alcohol and Other Drug Survey of State Child Welfare Agencies. Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America, 1998.

8Grant, B: Estimates of U.S. Children Exposed to Alcohol Abuse and Dependence in the Family. American Journal of Public Health January 2000; 90:112, Washington.

9Based upon several surveys of inmates and adults on probation (1995-1997). Available online from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). Located in publications section under: “Prior Abuse Reported by Inmates and Probationers” April 99. NCJ 172879

NOTE: Additional sources of child abuse statistics may be found at the Web site of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information: www.calib.com/nccanch/pubs In particular, see “Child Abuse and Neglect/Child Welfare Webliography” under “Other Publications” for a listing of over 300 Web sites that provide information resources.

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