Child maltreatment hurts children, families, and communities.

•  There are four categories of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect

•  Children under age 1 are at the greatest risk of abuse

•  More than 700,000 children were victims of child abuse and neglect in 2014

•  5 children in America die every day from child abuse and neglect

•  Child abuse can impact brain development and has life-long impacts on health and mental health

•  Child maltreatment has staggering economic costs - the CDC estimates just 1 year of confirmed cases creates approximately $124 billion in lifetime total costs

•  Child abuse can be prevented - family and community supports can prevent abuse, lessen the impact of abuse, and stop abuse from happening again


The CDC defines child abuse and neglect (also referred to generally as child maltreatment) as "any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child."

Federal law creates a minimum definition for child abuse and neglect, but gives states the authority to define what constitutes child abuse and neglect in their jurisdictions. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C. Section 5106g), requires that at a minimum, states define child abuse and neglect to mean:

"Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation"; or

"An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”  

State laws provide much greater detail.  A summary of state definitions for child abuse and neglect can be found here.  The Child Welfare Information Gateway also has a searchable database of state statutes to access access state-specific definitions.



Source:  Zero to Three

Source:  Zero to Three

This policy agenda outlines the important steps that can and should be taken to address the needs of vulnerable infants and toddlers in the child welfare system.

Source:  Prevent Child Abuse America

Source:  Prevent Child Abuse America

This resource provides an overview of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, and assesses the effects of child abuse and related adverse childhood experiences as a public health problem.