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Child Abuse and Neglect and What You Can Do to Reduce It

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Sep 27, 2018


The latest national data are out on child abuse and neglect.

Compiled by the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from state reports, these data answer the following questions:

  • How many allegations of maltreatment were reported and investigated?
  • Who reported child maltreatment?
  • Who were the child victims?
  • What were the most common types of maltreatment?
  • How many children died from abuse and neglect?
  • Who abused and neglected children?
  • Who received services and what did they include?

The good news is that in the past five years the rate of child abuse and neglect has declined. Unfortunately, the data that answer those questions should continue to concern us all. Here are some of the sobering lowlights:

  • State child protective services agencies received an estimated 4.1 million referrals of alleged maltreatment that involved 4 million children.
  • An estimated 676,000 children were maltreated, a rate of 9.1 per 1,000 children, with the highest rate of maltreatment in children birth to age 1, an astonishing rate of 24.8 per 1,000 children.
  • Of children maltreated, 74.8 percent were neglected, 18.2 were physically abused, and 8.5 percent were sexually abused.
  • 1,700 children died from abuse or neglect—of those children, 70 percent were under the age of 3.

Whenever I examine data on child abuse and neglect I do so with trepidation. I wonder: How can a parent abuse or neglect their child? While we can never excuse a parent for such behavior, we can better understand the risk factors that contribute to child abuse and neglect and do everything in our power to reduce or eliminate them.

That’s why the use of a fatherhood program that research has shown reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect can be a potent intervention in the fight to reduce child abuse and neglect. The evidence-based 24/7 Dad® program of National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) is one such intervention.

Research in Texas on 645 dads of different races and ethnicities found that the program builds all five of the protective factors—four at a high level of statistical significance—that a large body of research has found reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. For a summary of this study and its other findings, read my three-part blog post on it: click here for Part 1, here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

NFI has other resources that can enhance any intervention to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. These resources include:

  • The Understanding Domestic Violence booster session, a stand-alone workshop or add-on to a fatherhood program that addresses domestic abuse, one of the risk factors for child abuse and neglect.
  • Printed materials such as the brochure 12 Ways to Create a Peaceful Home to help dads create a loving, caring environment where children can thrive.
  • Two staff development guides that help you quickly and easily lead discussions with dads and moms in structured conversations around important fatherhood and parenting topics.

I encourage you to download and read the factsheet on the latest data on child abuse and neglect. If you work in an organization with efforts focused on reducing child abuse and neglect, I also encourage you to obtain or add to your collection of NFI resources that can enhance those efforts.

Are you aware of the rate of child abuse and neglect in your state and community?

Is there something more your organization could do to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect, particularly with dads?


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Topics: Featured, NFI-Specific Programs & Resources, General Fatherhood Research & Studies

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