Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.


If it is not measured, it didn’t happen.  If it didn’t happen, it’s not a problem.  If it’s not a problem there is no discussion.  If there is no discussion, there will be no solution.  The lack of transparency, tracking and accountability for things happening to America’s at risk children is appalling.  Here are just some of the child abuse statistical facts that highlight the need for change.



37% of American children are reported to Child Protective Services by their 18th birthday (African American children are reported at 54%), for a total of 4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.

  • 207,000 children received foster care
  • 3% of victims are neglected.
  • 2% of victims are physically abused.
  • 4% of victims are sexually abused.
  • 9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.
  • 9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
  • 9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
  • 4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.
  • 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
  • Estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.



  • The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment.
  • ALL 52 states reported that most victims were younger than 3 years.
  • The victimization rate was highest for children younger than one year of age.
  • Over one-quarter (27.%) of total abuse victims are younger than 3 years.
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).



Sexual Abuse

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.
  • 3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization, and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.
  • 325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year.
  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old, and the average age for boys is 11 to 13 years old.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.



  • Alcohol abuse (parent/caregiver)—the compulsive use of alcohol that is not of a temporary nature.1
  • Drug abuse (parent/caregiver)—the compulsive use of drugs that is not of a temporary nature.1
  • Domestic violence (parent/caregiver)–abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another.1



  • 1/3 to 2/3 of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.12
  • In one study, children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs were three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.12
  • Two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused or neglected as children.10
  • More than a third of adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect will have a substance use disorder before their 18th birthday, three times as likely as those without a report of abuse or neglect.13
  • 3% – 15.8%of children have a parent/caregiver alcohol abuse risk factor.1
  • 4% – 33.5%of children have a parent/caregiver drug abuse risk factor.1
  • 0% – 33.2%of children have a domestic violence abuse risk factor.1


Gun Violence

  • Guns kill or injure a child or teen every half hour.
  • In 2010, 2,694 children and teens were killed by guns and 15,576 were injured by guns. Guns killed more infants, toddlers and preschoolers than law enforcement officers in the line of duty.
  • U.S. children and teens are 17 times more likely to die from gun violence than their peers in 25 other high-income countries.
  • Since 1963, three times as many children and teens have died from guns on American soil than U.S. soldiers killed in action in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • Gun violence disproportionately affects children of color. In 2010, Black children and teens were nearly five times and Hispanic children and teens were more than three times more likely to be killed by guns than White children and teens.
  • United States military and law enforcement agencies possess 4 million guns. U.S. civilians have 310 million.
  • Every year American companies manufacture enough bullets to fire 31 rounds into every one of our citizens.



  • Abused children are25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.6
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk taking, putting them at greater risk for STDs.6
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.7
  • In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year old’s that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.15
  • The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States is estimated at $585 billion.8
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.


Preventable Costs

  • Child poverty costs the nation at least $500 billion each year in extra education, health and criminal justice costs and in lost productivity.
  • Child abuse and neglect cost the U.S. $80.3 billion each year in direct costs and lost productivity.
  • A single case of nonfatal child abuse and neglect costs $210,012 over a lifetime, and a case of fatal child abuse and neglect $1.27 million, mostly due to lost productivity.
  • Gun deaths and injuries cost the U.S. $174.1 billion each year, or 1.15 percent of our total gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Racial and ethnic health disparities cost the U.S. an estimated $1.24 trillion in medical costs and lost productivity between 2003 and 2006.
  • The high school students who dropped out of the class of 2011 will cost the nation’s economy an estimated $154 billion in lost income over the course of their lifetimes.
  • The gap between Black and Hispanic compared to White high school achievement in 1998 cost the U.S. $310 to $525 billion in lost GDP by 2008 and the income achievement gap cost $400 to $670 billion.
  • The achievement gap between American students and those in top-performing countries like Finland and Korea in 1998 cost the nation $1.3 to $2.3 trillion in 2008 or 9 to 16 percent of GDP. We Can Afford to Do Better.
  • The amount the U.S. spends per minute on corporate tax breaks would pay the salary of 16 child care workers. More than 220,000 children are currently on waiting lists for child care assistance. Expanding child care increases poor mothers’ work participation.
  • Three days’ worth of the amount the U.S. spends on corporate tax breaks would provide a whole year’s worth of SNAP food assistance for the estimated 737,000 children who don’t have enough food.
  • The amount the U.S. spends a year on corporate tax breaks for private jets would pay the salary of 6,400 high school teachers.
  • All poor infants and toddlers could have been served by Early Head Start if the government diverted just 18 days of defense spending. Currently only about 4 percent of eligible children reap the benefits of this high quality early learning experience. Quality early education programs return 7 to 10 percent a year for every dollar invested.
  • More than 17,500 low-income children could enroll in Head Start for a year for the cost of just one F-35 fighter jet among the nearly 2,500 the Department of Defense is scheduled to buy. The State of America’s Children The State of America’s Children® 2014


Child Well-Being 50 Years After the Launch of War on Poverty

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in his State of the Union Address. Fifty years later, how have American children fared? Fair Start: Rich Get Richer While Working Families Struggle

  • In 2012, child poverty was 5 percent lower than in 1964 but 64 percent higher than the lowest recorded level — 14 percent in 1969 — and 21 percent higher than before the recession. The Black-White ratio for child poverty decreased 26 percent from 1964 to 2012. Black children remained three times more likely than White children to be poor in 2012.
  • Taking into account government benefits, child poverty and child extreme poverty were cut by over a third from 1967 to 2012.
  • Income inequality has increased dramatically. The top 1 percent of earners received 22.5 percent of the nation’s income in 2012, more than double their share in 1964 and equal to levels last seen in the 1920s.
  • The federal minimum wage is now worth 22 percent less in inflation-adjusted terms than in 1964. In no state can an individual working full-time at the minimum wage afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental unit and have enough for food, utilities and other necessities. Head Start: Progress and Peril
  • The percent of children living in single-parent households more than doubled between 1964 and 2012 and in 2012 children in single-parent families were nearly four times more likely to be poor than children in married-couple families. While the Black-White ratio decreased 35 percent, Black children are more than twice as likely as White children to live with only one parent.
  • Teen births have been cut nearly in half since 1970 and the Black-White ratio has decreased by a quarter since 1980. The U.S. teen birth rate is the second highest among industrialized countries.
  • The percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool or kindergarten more than quintupled between 1964 and 2012.
  • There are 19 percent more high school graduates and 162 percent more college graduates and Black-White gaps have decreased substantially. However, a majority of fourth and eighth graders remained unable to read or compute at grade level in 2013 and there are large achievement gaps by income and race. School segregation by race and income continues to be the norm. Healthy Start: Important Gains but More to Do.
  • Infant mortality decreased three-quarters between 1964 and 2011 but the Black-White ratio grew 14 percent since 1980. In 2011 Black babies were more than twice as likely to die as White babies. The U.S. infant mortality rate remains one of the highest among industrialized nations. Safe Start: Children Losing a War at Home.
  • Gun deaths of children and teens increased 31 percent between 1964 and 2010, and the Black/White ratio more than doubled leaving Black children and teens nearly five times more likely than White children and teens to be killed by a gun in 2010. The State of America’s Children® 2014


Racial Disparities for America’s Children

Each Day in America for Black Children

  • 2 mothers die in childbirth.
  • 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect.
  • 5 children or teens commit suicide.
  • 7 children or teens are killed by guns.
  • 24 children or teens die from accidents.
  • 66 babies die before their first birthdays.
  • 187 children are arrested for violent crimes.
  • 408 children are arrested for drug crimes.
  • 838 public school students are corporally punished.*
  • 847 babies are born to teen mothers.
  • 865 babies are born at low birthweight.
  • 1,241 babies are born without health insurance.
  • 1,392 babies are born into extreme poverty.
  • 1,837 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
  • 2,723 babies are born into poverty.
  • 2,857 high school students drop out.*
  • 4,028 children are arrested.
  • 4,408 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
  • 16,244 public school students are suspended.*

Each Day in America for White Children

  • 1mother dies in childbirth.
  • 1 child is killed by abuse or neglect.
  • 2 children or teens are killed by guns.
  • 4 children or teens commit suicide.
  • 15 children or teens die from accidents.
  • 30 babies die before their first birthdays.
  • 88 children are arrested for violent crimes.
  • 303 children are arrested for drug crimes.
  • 331 babies are born to teen mothers.
  • 345 babies are born into extreme poverty.
  • 404 public school students are corporally punished.*
  • 407 babies are born at low birthweight.
  • 633 babies are born without health insurance.
  • 737 babies are born into poverty.
  • 805 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
  • 1,066 high school students drop out.*
  • 1,718 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
  • 2,645 children are arrested.
  • 5,233 public school students are suspended.*

Each Day in America for Hispanic Children

  • 1 child is killed by abuse or neglect.
  • 1 child or teen commits suicide.
  • 1 child or teen is killed by guns.
  • 4 children or teens die from accidents.
  • 13 babies die before their first birthdays.
  • 56 public school students are corporally punished.**
  • 173 babies are born at low birthweight.
  • 285 babies are born to teen mothers.
  • 399 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
  • 408 babies are born without health insurance.
  • 595 babies are born into extreme poverty.
  • 834 high school students drop out.**
  • 1,153 babies are born into poverty.
  • 1,330 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
  • 3,453 public school students are suspended.**

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, and former Minnesota Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, these sad facts explain why the U.S. spends more on crime and incarceration than any other industrialized nation. ***

The following information is gathered from: Kids Count, Children’s Defense Fund and American SPCC.


Child Abuse and the Developing Brain

Sonya Sasser + Mike Tikkanen

A child who has been sexually abused may experience many detrimental effects on his or her healthy brain without ever fully understanding the damage that has occurred as a consequence of the abuse.  The impact of sexual abuse can include– emotional, social, and physiological issues and can also lead to unchecked developmental difficulties. Such difficulties can even be measured by examining abuse survivors’ brains.

Many don’t realize how sexual abuse contributes to stress on the survivor’s brain.

Body Dysregulation

According to“Children with a history of sexual abuse often suffer the consequences of what science calls “body dysregulation.” This means that children and adult survivors respond to stimuli in their everyday lives to an exaggerated degree. Many survivors are hypersensitive to sounds, smells, tastes, and touches that are otherwise safe or don’t deserve such a dramatic response.  This degree of nervous response can take its toll. An overactive stress response inhibits many everyday life functions and can lead to troubles socializing normally with other people. Stress can also lead to self-medicating and substance abuse as “outlets” to curb anxiety. You may even pass up positive events or life-changing encounters thanks to an over-inflated sense of fear.

Some survivors’ nervous systems may also “numb” them, a condition scientists call “analgesia.” This means the child or adult has chronic trouble evaluating their own internal physical sensations. If they hurt themselves, they may not realize it until their condition becomes dangerous. The opposite can also be true: Many adult survivors of mistreatment complain about chronic physical problems where no true cause exists.”

Affect Brain Structure

Sexual abuse can also affect other brain structures. also explains that “the cortex is responsible for the majority of our rational decision-making, planning, and analytical abilities. The hippocampus is a deep-brain structure that helps process emotions and memories. These structures work together to help children and adults learn new things. The stress of abuse compromises these parts of the brain. With a damaged ability to learn, it is an uphill battle for abused children and adult survivors alike to learn coping mechanisms and new ways to frame their experiences with or without therapy.”

Affect Brain Chemicals

Chemicals inside the brain are also affected by sexual abuse. According to,  “Chemicals inside the brain are crucial for development and are also at risk. The hormone cortisol, for example, is responsible for our stress response. In the mind of an abused child or adult survivor, cortisol is produced more than in the brains of people with no history of abuse. Other chemicals specific to the brain (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine, help regulate our good moods and sense of accomplishment. Abused brains tend to make less of these chemicals, which can lead to bouts of depression or “impulsive aggression” later in life.

What’s more, very high levels of stress chemicals change a child’s brain circuitry. The more pronounced the stress and abuse, the more “toxic” chemicals such as cortisol are to the system. Research also shows that victims who were abused by close family members must cope with more negative brain development outcomes than other victims of abuse.”

Sadly, many cases of abuse are not being reported and these invisible children are left suffering with the damaging consequences.


Mike Tikkanen recently wrote, IF YOU ONLY KNEW:

If you knew that being raped at five years old destroys normal brain development and not just a child’s brain & life but the adult he or she becomes, would you make a greater effort to end child rape in your community? This CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem believes child sex abuse is under-reported in Child Protection Systems.  If you knew that almost half of the at risk children in your community had been raped would you be more likely to support affordable daycare, crisis nurseries and other child safety net programs? I also maintain that a significant percentage of mandated reporters just “don’t” report child rape because of the fallout that comes with it.

Successful suicides by very young children are rare, but what is not rare is their self loathing, self harm and attempts at suicide. When seven year old Gabriel Meyer hung himself in Florida he left a note that could have been written by an adult about how he hated being forced to take Prozac.

My first visit as a CASA guardian ad Litem was to a four year old in the suicide ward of a hospital. 6 year old state ward Kendrea Johnson hung herself in a foster home not far from my home a few years later.

I’ve watched these sad stories repeat themselves in the lives of countless children. Half of the 50 children I’ve helped remove from toxic homes were sexually abused. One two year old, five children under five and the rest under ten. Others were burned, badly beaten, left in cribs for days without food or human touch.

Whether it’s rape, beatings, starvation or some other kind of repeated in home hell, millions of INVISIBLE CHILDREN live lives of torture (WHO* defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”) and never escape because they are not reported to child protection.  Even when abuse is reported, only a percentage are investigated. Resources are limited and often children are reported dozens, even hundreds of times before anything happens to help them.

INVISIBLE CHILDREN have no voice in the homes they are raised, the media or if they are lucky enough to be taken from the home by child protection, no voice in the courts and foster homes that rule their lives.

If you knew that these children, are impacting education, public health and public safety in every city, making schools fail, communities unsafe, taxes and insurance much higher.

Teacher, social worker and law enforcement personnel are leaving their professions sooner than ever before because the work has become dangerous and almost impossible in many cities.  Teachers now are managing Prozac kids that have a growing propensity for violence, which is impacting the quality of learning in the class room for all children as well as the safety of the problem child, other students and teachers.

All of this is impacting school performance, public safety and teacher, social worker and law enforcement turnover

When Dallas Police Chief David Brown retired after five of his officers were shot dead one night he drew attention to how law enforcement was now handling most of our nations mental health problems.  NY’s police Benevolence Society took out a full page ad begging local governments to provide more money for MH services because of the rash of police shootings of mentally troubled people.  Sheriff Stanek in MN threatened to sue the state for not providing mental health services & police departments everywhere are shooting and incarcerating mentally ill people.

If you knew;

  • 37% of American children are reported to child protective services by the time they are 18 in our nation today,
  • The great majority of youth in Juvenile Justice have passed through child protection services,
  • 80% of youth aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives,
  • One in ten child hospitalizations is for mental health disorder and that 4 million American youth have mental health disorders (counting only those that seek services) & that most are going untreated or undertreated because the facilities and protocols needed do not exist in their community.
  • 66% of youth in Juvenile Justice have diagnosable mental illnesses with 1⁄2 of them suffering from chronic, multiple and dangerous conditions,
  • 1/3 of American foster children are forced onto psychotropic medications and that in 2014 20,000 on and two year old children were forced onto Prozac like drugs the same year that big pharmaceutical companies were fined many billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on young children,
  • Privatized group homes in Florida and other states are finding prostitution in those homes a large and growing problem for very young girls and our courts have sent judges to prison (40 years) for illegally enriching themselves off of innocent children in privatized centers.
  • Over 30% of American youth are arrested by their 23rd birthday & now 100 million Americans have a criminal record. Hennepin County (Minneapolis) MN arrested 44% of its adult African American Men in 2001 with no duplicate arrests. And 11 and 12 year olds are now routinely charged as adults in criminal cases.
  • Child abuse impacts the development of the brain and interrupts logic, reason, learning and decision making that untreated lasts a lifetime and that,
  • Generational child abuse is now a fact in America with 3rd, 4th and 5th generations of abused children having the next generation of soon to be abused children,
  • That this generational abuse has resulted in a genetic disposition within the family (epigenetics) as well as the environmental reality of caregivers without parenting skills, drug problems and violent behavior patterns raising their families with no chance for the child to develop coping skills required to live a normal life without the help of the community.
  • Almost 25% of Americans are now state wards or special needs people and rural hospitals all over America are refusing to deal with mental health problems.”


All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children


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