Child Abuse (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Who abuses children?

According to the statistics, the majority of perpetrators of child mistreatment (81%) are parents and another 11% are other relatives of the victim. People who are in other caretaking relationships to the victim (for example, child-care providers, foster parents, and facility staff) account for only 2% of the offenders. About 10% of all perpetrators are classified as noncaretakers or unknown. In many states, child abusers by definition must be in a caretaking role.

An estimated 81% of all offenders are under age 40. Overall, approximately 61% of perpetrators are female, although the gender of the abuser differs by the type of mistreatment. Neglect and medical neglect are most often attributed to female caretakers, while sexual abuse is most often associated with male offenders.

What is child abuse?

Comment on this

A broad definition of child abuse implies purposeful and serious injury inflicted upon a child by a caregiver. Specific countries and ethnic groups have developed sometimes widely divergent definitions. In the United States, each state is responsible for drafting definitions for child abuse and neglect consistent with federal law. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, amended in October 2011, provides the basis from which individual states may structure their legislation.

Four broad categories are generally recognized (2011 data):

  1. Neglect (78%)
  2. Physical abuse (18%)
  3. Sexual abuse (9%)
  4. Emotional abuse (7%)

(The percentage total is in excess of 100% because of instances in which a single victim received multiple types of abuse.)

Data from 2011 indicate that approximately 9.1% of all children in the United States are victims of child abuse. The most at-risk population reside in Washington, DC (22.6% of all children). Approximately 16.9% children of New York state have been abused. The safest state is Pennsylvania (1.2%).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Child Abuse - Experience Question: Were you or someone you know a victim of child abuse? Please share your story.
Child Abuse - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including counseling, did you or someone you know receive to deal with being abused as a child?
Child Abuse - Prevention Question: Please share ways you have tried to prevent child abuse in your family or community.