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Government Resources: Public Safety: Child Abuse

Child Abuse Victims by Age, 2012

Child Abuse Victims by Age, 2012

The percentages of child victims were similar for both boys (48.7) and girls (50.9). Fewer than 1 percent of victims had an unknown sex. The FFY 2012 victimization rate for girls was slightly higher at 9.5 per 1,000 girls in the population than boys at 8.7 per 1,000 boys in the population.  The majority of victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities—White (44.0%), Hispanic (21.8%), and African-American (21.0%). However, victims of African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and multiple racial descent had the highest rates of victimization at 14.2, 12.4, and 10.3 victims, respectively, per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity.  Source: Child Maltreatment, 2012

How Is Child Abuse and Neglect Defined in Federal Law?

Federal legislation lays the groundwork for States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

  • Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
  • An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

Most Federal and State child protection laws primarily refer to cases of harm to a child caused by parents or other caregivers; they generally do not include harm caused by other people, such as acquaintances or strangers. Source: What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? (Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

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