Child Abuse

By: Colin Gilbert, Karsyn Carone, Clay McKeel

What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.


  • Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States
  • The United States has one one of the worst records among industrialized nations - losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse
  • A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds
  • In 2012, state agencies found an estimated 686,000 victims of child maltreatment, enough to fill 10 modern football stadiums, but that only tells part of the story


  • 28.3% of adults report being physically abused as a child
  • 20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child
  • 10.6% of adults report being emotionally abused as a child
  • 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder

Health Impacts of Child Abuse

Mental Health Disorders, Addictions, and Related Issues:

  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Illicit drug abuse
  • Smoking and drinking at an early age
  • Depression
  • Suicide attempts

Sexual and Reproductive Health Issues and Risk Factors:

  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy and fetal death

Financial Impacts of Child Abuse

For new cases in 2008 alone, lifetime estimates of lost worker productivity, health care costs, special education costs, child welfare expenditures and criminal justice expenditures added up to $124 billion

This could send 1.7 million children to college.

Child Abuse Fatalities

In 2012, state agencies identified an estimated 1,640 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect — between four and five children a day. However, studies also indicate significant undercounting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies — by 50% or more.

That's roughly 1/4 of your child's elementary school class.