HealthDay News — One in eight children in the United States will experience maltreatment, well above the cited national average, according to researchers. 

“Our findings indicate that maltreatment will be confirmed for one in eight U.S. children by 18 years of age, far greater than the one in 100 children whose maltreatment is confirmed annually,” wrote Christopher Wildeman, PhD, of Yale University, and colleagues in JAMA Pediatrics

In order to estimate the cumulative prevalence of confirmed childhood maltreatment in children up to age 18 years, inspectors used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect System Child File, which includes information on all U.S. children with a confirmed report of maltreatment. Cumulative prevalence of confirmed maltreatment was estimated by race/ethnicity, gender, and year.

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Between 2004 and 2011, more than 5.6 million cases of maltreatment were reported nationwide.

Nearly 13% (95% CI: 12.5%-12.6%) of children will experience a confirmed case of maltreatment by age 18, based on rates from 2011. Prevalence was higher for girls (13%) than for boys (12%). Compared with white (11%) or Asian/Pacific Islander (4%) children, prevalence was higher for African American (21%), Native American (14%), and Hispanic (13%) children.

The risk of maltreatment was highest in the first few years of life, with 2% and 6% of children, respectively, having confirmed maltreatment by age 1 year and age 5 years. Estimates from 2011 were consistent with those from 2004 through 2010.

“Annual rates of confirmed child maltreatment dramatically understate the cumulative number of children confirmed to be maltreated during childhood,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Wildeman C et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2014; doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.410