Child Maltreatment 2012 Summary of Key Findings NUMBERS AND TRENDS

February 2014
Child Maltreatment 2012:
Summary of Key Findings
This factsheet presents excerpts from Child
Maltreatment 2012, a report based on data
submissions by State child protective services
(CPS) agencies for Federal fiscal year (FFY)
2012. The full Child Maltreatment 2012
report is available on the Children’s Bureau
How many allegations
of maltreatment
were reported and
Who reported child
Who were the
child victims?
How Many Allegations of Maltreatment
Were Reported and Investigated?
What were the most
common types of
During FFY 2012, an estimated 3.4 million
referrals involving the alleged maltreatment of
approximately 6.3 million children were made to
CPS agencies. Of these referrals, approximately
2.1 million reports concerning more than 3.8
million children (duplicate count) or an estimated
3.2 million children (unique count) were
screened in as appropriate for CPS response.1
The duplicate count of child victims counts a child each time he or she was
found to be a victim. The unique count of child victims counts a child only once,
regardless of the number of times he or she was found to be a victim during the
reporting year. As nearly all States are able to report unique counts, the Child
Maltreatment report series has transitioned from using duplicate counts to
unique counts for most analyses. For the Child Maltreatment 2012 report, basic
counts and demographic analyses (age, sex, and race) were conducted with
the unique counts. For analyses where events and attributes of the victims were
examined—such as disposition type and perpetrator relationship—a duplicate
count was used.
Children’s Bureau/ACYF/ACF/HHS
800.394.3366 | Email: [email protected] |
How many children died
from abuse or neglect?
Who abused and
neglected children?
Who received
services, and what
did they include?
Child Maltreatment 2012: Summary of Key Findings
ƒƒ Approximately three-fifths (62.0 percent) of referrals
were screened in for investigation or assessment by
CPS agencies.
ƒƒ Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the
highest rate of victimization at 21.9 per 1,000 children
of the same age group in the national population.
ƒƒ Approximately one-fifth of the investigations or
assessments found at least one child to be a victim
of abuse or neglect, with the following report
dispositions: 17.7 percent substantiated, 0.9 percent
indicated, and 0.5 percent alternative response victim.2
ƒƒ Slightly more than one-half (50.9 percent) of the child
victims were girls, and 48.7 percent were boys. The
gender was unknown for less than 1 percent of victims.
ƒƒ More than four-fifths of the investigations or
assessments determined that the child was not a
victim of maltreatment, with the following dispositions:
58.0 percent unsubstantiated, 9.7 percent no alleged
maltreatment, 10.7 percent alternative response
nonvictim,3 1.5 percent closed with no finding, 0.7
percent “other,” and 0.2 percent intentionally false.
Who Reported Child Maltreatment?
ƒƒ Three races or ethnicities comprised nearly 87 percent
of victims: African-American (21.0 percent), Hispanic
(21.8 percent), and White (44.0 percent).
What Were the Most Common Types
of Maltreatment?
As in prior years, neglect was the most common
form of child maltreatment. CPS investigations
determined the following (all of the following
numbers refer to unique victims):
For FFY 2012, nearly three-fifths (58.7 percent) of all
reports of alleged child abuse or neglect were made
by professionals. The term “professional” means
that the person had contact with the alleged child
maltreatment victim as part of the report source’s job.
The remaining reports were made by nonprofessionals
and other unclassified reporters, including friends,
neighbors, sports coaches, and relatives.
ƒƒ More than 75 percent (78.3 percent) of victims suffered
The most common report sources were law enforcement
personnel (16.7 percent), education personnel (16.6
percent), social services staff (11.1 percent), and medical
personnel (8.5 percent). Professionals have submitted
more than one-half of all reports for the past 5 years.
How Many Children Died From Abuse
or Neglect?
Who Were the Child Victims?
In 2012, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of
abuse and neglect nationwide (unique count). Among the
children confirmed as victims by CPS agencies in 2012
(all of the following numbers refer to unique victims):
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS)
disposition category of “alternative response victim” is defined as a
conclusion that the child was identified as a victim when a response other
than an investigation was provided.
The NCANDS disposition category of “alternative response nonvictim”
is defined as a conclusion that the child was not identified as a victim
when a response other than an investigation was provided.
ƒƒ More than 15 percent (18.3 percent) of the victims
suffered physical abuse.
ƒƒ Fewer than 10 percent (9.3 percent) of the victims
suffered sexual abuse.
ƒƒ Fewer than 10 percent (8.5 percent) of the victims
suffered psychological maltreatment.4
Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence
of maltreatment. During FFY 2012 (all of the
following numbers refer to unique victims):
ƒƒ An estimated 1,640 children died due to abuse and
ƒƒ The overall rate of child fatalities was 2.20 deaths per
100,000 children in the national population.
ƒƒ Nearly 70 percent (69.9 percent) of child fatalities were
attributed to neglect only or a combination of neglect
and another maltreatment type, and 44.3 percent died
exclusively from physical abuse or from physical abuse
in combination with another maltreatment type.
Each victim could be counted for multiple forms of maltreatment.
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Child Maltreatment 2012: Summary of Key Findings
ƒƒ Nearly three-quarters (70.3 percent) of the children
who died due to child abuse and neglect were younger
than 3 years old.
ƒƒ Boys had a higher child fatality rate than girls at 2.54
boys per 100,000 boys in the population compared to
1.94 girls per 100,000 girls in the population.
Who Abused and Neglected Children?
In FFY 2012, States reported a total unique count of
512,040 perpetrators (each perpetrator counted once,
regardless of the number of children or reports involved).
ƒƒ More than 80 percent (80.3 percent) of perpetrators
of child maltreatment were parents, 6.1 percent were
other relatives, and 4.2 percent were unmarried
partners of parents (duplicate count).
ƒƒ Women comprised a larger percentage of all
perpetrators than men: 53.5 percent compared to 45.3
percent (unique count).
ƒƒ Four-fifths (82.2 percent) of all perpetrators were
between the ages of 18 and 44 years (unique count).
ƒƒ Fewer than 7 percent (6.3 percent) of duplicate
perpetrators committed sexual abuse, while 10.2
percent committed physical abuse, and 60.2 percent
committed neglect (duplicate count).5
Who Received Services, and What
Did They Include?
As a result of an investigation or alternative
response, CPS agencies provide services to children
and their families, both in the home and in foster
care. For the 2012 duplicate count of children:
Since a single perpetrator can have different relationships across
reports and can commit multiple types of maltreatment, duplicate counts
are used for those analyses. Demographic characteristics (gender, age),
which do not vary for a single perpetrator, were analyzed with unique
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Children’s Bureau
ƒƒ Forty-five States reported that approximately 3.2
million children received prevention services.
ƒƒ More than 1 million children received postresponse
services from a CPS agency.
ƒƒ Three-fifths (60.9 percent) of victims and 29.6 percent
of nonvictims received postresponse services.
ƒƒ Among the States reporting a breakdown of service
type, two-fifths (38.6 percent) of victims who received
services and 12.5 percent of nonvictims who received
services were removed from their homes and received
foster care services. The remaining three-fifths (61.4
percent) of victims and 87.5 percent of nonvictims who
received services received in-home services only.
The statistics in the Child Maltreatment reports are
based on data submitted to the NCANDS. NCANDS is
a voluntary reporting system that was developed by the
Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services to collect and analyze annual statistics
on child maltreatment from State CPS agencies.
Suggested citation:
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2014). Child
maltreatment 2012: Summary of key findings.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.