Learn More: Child Abuse

What does this mean?

According to Child Maltreatment 2011 (the most recent child abuse and neglect data), approximately 681,000 children nationwide were victims of child abuse or neglect. Of that number, 78.5 percent suffered neglect, 17.6 percent were physically abused, 9.1 percent were sexually abused, 8.9 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and 2.2 percent were medically neglected. Additionally, 10.3 percent were victims of "other" types of maltreatment such as abandonment and threatened harm. In 2011, there were approximately 1,570 deaths nationwide due to abuse or neglect. In Florida there were slightly more that 167,000 reports of abuse and neglect resulting in 133 deaths.

The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. In 2011, 51 States reported more than one-quarter (27.1%) of all victims were younger than 3 years. This equals to 182,742 victims who were younger than 3 years. Twenty percent (19.6%) of victims were in the age group 35 years.

Why is it important?

Many children who are abused or neglected wind up in the nation's foster care system, often away from family and loved ones, and they are frequently subjected to multiple moves or relocations while in the system. The length of stay in the foster care system tends to increase with the age upon entry into the system, meaning that if a child enters the foster care system as a teen or pre-teen their average length of stay is likely to be greater than that of younger children. Many of them face the grim prospect of growing up and aging out of foster care at age 18 without the requisite skills to succeed in adulthood. Not only does the trauma associated with the abuse or neglect and removal from their love ones have a negative affect on their physical and emotional development, the effects of frequent moves within the foster care system can further negatively affect the child's development and sense of belonging.

The long term effects of abuse and neglect of children is often manifested in aggressive, acting-out, and criminal behavior either toward others or towards themselves. They are more likely to be disruptive in school and at home than their counterparts who do not suffer abuse or neglect. Abuse also compromises the child's ability to bond with a loving adult; thus increasing the probability the child, and subsequently the child as adult, cannot enter into loving, mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. They are more likely to engage in risky behavior (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution) and suffer psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression). As parents, children of abuse and neglect are more likely to abuse or neglect their children; thus perpetuating a cycle of violence.

How are the data collected (methods)?

In Florida, this data is regularly collected and maintained by the State's Department of Children and Families.

Caveats and Limitations

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Additional Information

  • Child Abuse & Neglect Statistics - Find State, national, & international data & statistics on the incidence of child abuse & neglect & fatalities due to child abuse & neglect. Find information on data sources & estimated costs of abuse & neglect.
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway - Information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families.
  • Children's Bureau - Works with State & local agencies to develop programs that focus on preventing the abuse of children in troubled families, protecting children from abuse, & finding permanent placements for those who cannot safely return to their homes.
  • ChildStats.gov: Forum on Child and Family Statistics - Annual report, "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being," provides a summary of national indicators of child well-being
  • Domestic Violence Forms - On this page, click on Domestic Violence to view forms for Petitions of Injunctions for Protection Against the following: domestic violence with children, domestic violence without children, repeat violence, dating violence & sexual violence.
  • Family Life Development Center, Cornell University - Mission: to understand & act upon risk & protective factors in the lives of children, youth, families, & communities. Areas of special interest: child maltreatment & family violence, youth development, children in residential care, HIV/AIDS prevention, & military family life.
  • Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Serving Florida's 41 domestic violence centers, FCADV runs Florida's toll-free domestic violence hotline, maintains a resource library, & develops posters, brochures, safety plans, & other resources.
  • Florida Department of Children and Families - State agency charged with protecting vulnerable family members, promoting strong and economically self-sufficient families, and advancing personal and family recovery and resiliency.
  • Medline Plus - Child Abuse Health Topics - Health topics involving child abuse including diagnosis/symptoms, prevention & screening, coping, specific conditions, clinical trials, organizations, law & policy.
  • Prevent Child Abuse America - Founded in 1972, this nonprofit works to promote the healthy development of children and prevent child abuse through its Healthy Families America and Pinwheels for Prevention programs.
  • Prevent Child Abuse Florida - The Ounce of Prevention Fund is the Florida chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America).
  • Prevent Child Abuse Florida Quarterly E-Newsletter - Current quarterly e-newsletter of Prevent Child Abuse Florida.
  • Safe & Sound Hillsborough County - Initiative to address domestic violence as a public health issue, focusing on prevention and early intervention
  • State Statutes Searchable Online Database - Access the Child Welfare Information Gateway State Statutes Series by title, or search statutes by individual states on issues related to child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption.