Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect: Identification and Reporting
New York State Mandatory Training

The Disturbing Statistics

Who Are the Mandated Reporters?

Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect Have Many PresentationsI

Legal Definitions Related to Child Maltreatment

Recognizing Child Abuse

Case Studies: Identifying Abuse

Risk Factors Contributing to Child Abuse and Maltreatment

Protective Factors for Child Abuse and Maltreatment

The Consequences of Child Abuse

Talking with Children

Reporting Child Abuse and Maltreatment

Reasonable Cause/When to Report

How to Report

What Happens After a Report is Made

The Abandoned Infant Protection Act




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Ken Hammond, USDA

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) is a federally sponsored effort that collects and analyzes annual data on child abuse and neglect. The data are submitted voluntarily by the States, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. State laws determine what is considered abuse, maltreatment or neglect in each state and these laws can vary from state to state. The information that is collected in each state also varies.

The reader is requested to remember that the data presented here are provided voluntarily by each state and compiled by NCANDS. The first report from NCANDS was based on data for 1990; the most recent report, Child Maltreatment 2013, published in 2015, reports on data collected from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. Most of the statistics in this course come from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families' Child Maltreatment 2013 (USDHHS-ACF, 2015).

The National Picture

Nationwide, an estimated 679,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013, a victimization rate of 9.1 for every 1,000 children in the country, according to Child Maltreatment 2013. A child was counted each time he or she was found to be a victim (USDHHS-ACF, 2015).

The 2013 victimization rate continues a trend towards lower rates. All of the factors that contribute to this reduction are not clear. The decrease can partially be attributed to several factors, including the increase in the number of children who received an unsubstantiated disposition, the increase in the number of children who received an alternative CPS response, and the decrease in the number of children who received a substantiated or indicated disposition.

It is possible that the lower rate of victimization in 2013 is related to States’ use of an “alternative response”, as mentioned previously.  This alternative approach may be called alternative response, family assessment response (FAR), or differential response (DR). Cases assigned this response often include early determinations that the children have a low-risk of maltreatment. This response usually includes the voluntary acceptance of CPS services and the mutual agreement of family needs. Such cases do not usually make a specific determination of the allegation of maltreatment. However, in cases where services are required by the agency rather than provided solely on a voluntary basis, some States also use the concept of a victim.

Child neglect continues to comprise the largest portion of cases of child maltreatment. According to the federal report Child Maltreatment 2013, of those substantiated reports, figures for the US include:

Physical abuse
Sexual abuse 
Psychological maltreatment
Medical neglect
Other types


“Other types of maltreatment” include, for example, abandonment, threats of harm, or congenital drug addiction, parent’s drug/alcohol use. States may code any condition that does not fall into one of the main categories-physical abuse, neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, and psychological or emotional maltreatment as "other." These maltreatment type percentages total more than 100 percent because children who were victims of more than one type of maltreatment were counted for each maltreatment (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. While the number of child deaths decreased since 2009, there were still 1,520 children who died from abuse and neglect in 2013 (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

Characteristics of Child Victims

Generally, the rate of victimization was inversely related to the age group of the child; the youngest children had the highest rate of victimization. Children younger than 1 year are at the most risk for abuse with the highest rate of victimization at 23.1 per 1,000 children in the population of the same age (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).  Children younger than 4 years are the most vulnerable for many reasons, including their dependency, small size, and inability to defend themselves. Of the children abused,  50.9 percent were female, 48.7 percent were male (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

The majority of victims comprised three races or ethnicities—White (44.0%), Hispanic (22.4%), and African-American (21.2%). African-American children had the highest rates of victimization at 14.6 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity. Hispanic and White children had lower rates of victimization at 8.5 and 8.1 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

Thirteen percent (12.6%) of victims were reported as having a disability.   Children with the following risk factors were considered as having a disability: intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, physical disability, behavioral problems, or another medical problem. visual or hearing impairment, learning disability, physical disability, behavioral problems, or another medical problem. Children with risk factors may be undercounted as not every child receives a clinical diagnostic assessment.  Four percent (4.1%) of victims were reported as having a medical condition not classified in NCANDS, 3.0 percent of victims had  behavior problems, 2.4 percent of victims were emotionally dis­turbed.  A victim could have been reported with more than one type of disability, but was counted only once in each disability category (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

It is a myth that strangers are the big danger for the nation’s children. The great majority of perpetrators of child abuse and neglect/maltreatment continue to be parents of the child.  One or both parents maltreated 91.4% of victims.  For 13% of victims, the perpetrator was not a parent.  The largest group in that category are male relatives, male partner of parent, or “other”.  The numbers exceed 100% because child victims may have been victimized multiple times by the same perpetrator, or by different combinations of perpetrators (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

In 2013, a nationally estimated 1,520 children died from abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.04
per 100,000 children in the population. The number of child deaths decreased by 12.7
percent from 2009 to 2013. Only the 49 states that reported fatality data in both 2009 and
2013 were included in this calculation.

The vulnerability of the youngest victims also is demonstrated by the rates of child fatalities. Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years and the child fatality rate mostly decreased with age. Children who were younger than 1 year old died from maltreatment at a rate of 18.09 per 100,000 children in the population younger than 1 year. This is nearly 3 times the fatality rate for children who were 1 year old (6.58 per 100,000 children in the population of the same age). Children who were older than 5 years died at a rate of less than 1.00 per 100,000 in the population.  Boys had a higher child fatality rate than girls; 2.36 per 100,000 boys in the population, compared to 1.77 per 100,000
girls in the population (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

More than 85 percent (86.8%) of child fatalities were of White (39.3%), African-American (33.0%), and Hispanic (14.5%) descent. Using the number of victims and the population data to create rates highlights some racial disparity. The rate of African-American child fatalities (4.52 per 100,000 African-American children) is approximately three times greater than the rates of White or Hispanic children (1.53 per 100,000 White children and 1.44 per 100,000 Hispanic children) (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

Reporters of Child Maltreatment

In 2013, of all the reports of child abuse, 61.6% were made by professionals (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015):

  • Teachers (17.5%),
  • Legal and law enforcement personnel (17.5%),
  • Social services staff (11.0%),
  • Medical personnel (9.0%),
  • Mental health personnel (5.5%),
  • Child daycare providers (0.7%), and
  • Foster care providers (0.5%).

Almost 19 percent (18.6%) of reports were made by non-professionals (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015):

  • Unclassified sources (19.8%),
  • Other relatives (6.9%),
  • Parents (6.7%), and
  • Friends and neighbors (4.7%).

Examining 5 years of report source data shows that the distributions have been stable. The categories of professional, nonprofessional, and unclassified have fluctuated less than two percentage points across the years. The slight changes from 2009 to 2013 indicate better reporting as the percentages of unclassified decreased and the percentages of professionals increased (USDHHS-ACYF, 2015).

In New York State

The following statistics for New York State also come for the national Child Maltreatment-2013 study.  In 2013, 205424 children received an investigation or alternative response, or a rate of 48.4 per 1,000 children. There were 64,578 children in the state that were victims of child abuse-a victimization rate of 15.2 for every 1,000 children. This is a 16.8 percent reduction in victims from 2009.

Consistent with national data, the youngest children are victimized most frequently.  Children under 1 year of age have the highest rate of victimization. Among boys, 32,315 were victims of abuse; 32,103 girls were victims of abuse; 160 victim’s gender was not identified.  New York State victims by race or ethnic origin data are also consistent with national data:


Number of Child Victims



American Indian/Alaska Native






Multiple Races


Pacific Islander






The 64,578 child victims in New York State in 2013 were determined to have suffered 102,125 maltreatment types, so that as indicated previously most children experience more than one type of abuse or maltreatment.

Maltreatment Type

Number of Victims





Medical Neglect






Physical Abuse



Psychological Abuse



Sexual Abuse



In 2013, there were determined to be 51,985 perpetrators of child abuse/maltreatment in New York State, with a total of 98,122 total relationships with the child (one perpetrator may hold several relationships with the child):

Perpetrator by Relationship to Child

Number of Child Victims





Legal Guardian


Unmarried Partner


Other Relatives


Foster Parents


Group Homes/Residential Facility Staff


Day Care Providers


Other Professionals






In 2014, there were 96 children in New York State who were substantiated to have died as a result of abuse or neglect; 221 fatalities were investigated after being reported to the State Central Register (SCR), “the child abuse reporting hotline”.

In a New York State report examining child fatality data for 2010 – 2014, two overall conclusions were identified (NYS-OCFS, 2015):

  • The number of total child fatalities reviewed by the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) annually increased by 7 percent between 2010 and 2014, a fact attributable to more robust reporting initiatives and an expansion of SCR intake categories.  Included now are cases in which unsafe sleep practices may have caused death, and since 2013, the SCR accepts reports involving death of an “otherwise healthy child” to rule out child abuse; and
  • The number of fatalities substantiated (or confirmed) as having been caused by abuse or maltreatment fluctuated and then decreased between 2012 and 2014 by 25 percent.

Ken Hammond, USDA

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