Child Abuse Facts and Figures

Child abuse is a horrific experience with potentially lasting effects. It’s also, unfortunately, a common experience. Here’s a look at the scope of the problem.

Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S each year. An estimated 678,000 children (unique incidents) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2018, the most recent year for which there is national data. That’s about 1% of kids in a given year. However, this data may be incomplete, and the actual number of children abused is likely underreported.

Child welfare authorities ensure the safety of more than 3.5 million kids More than 3.5 million children received an investigation or alternative response from child protective services agencies. An estimated 1.9 million children received prevention services.

An estimated 1,770 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2018, the most recent year for which there is national data. But child abuse fatalities are not the only consequences  abused children suffer. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect are forms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that researchers have linked to mental health problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and impulse control disorders. Child abuse often co-occurs with other ACEs, like witness to domestic violence or community violence, traumatic loss or separation, or sexual assault. Adults with multiple ACEs have even been shown to be more likely to endure poor health outcomes like diabetes, STDs, heart disease, and early death.

Source: National Children’s Alliance

Please click one of the links below to learn more about each topic.

In New Jersey, child abuse is legally defined as the physical, sexual or emotional harm or risk of harm to a child under the age of 18 caused by a parent or other person who acts as a caregiver for the child.

Neglect occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to provide proper supervision for a child or adequate food, clothing, shelter, education or medical care although financially able or assisted to do so.

In New Jersey, ANY person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected has a legal responsibility to report it to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. A concerned caller does not need proof to report an allegation of child abuse and can make the report anonymously. Any person who knowingly fails to report suspected abuse or neglect according to the law or to comply with the provisions of the law is a disorderly person and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months imprisonment, or both.

There are a number of warning signs that may indicate that a child is being abused or neglected.

A child may disclose to you that they are being abused. It is very important to react appropriately.

To report possible child abuse, call New Jersey’s Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-877-NJ ABUSE (652-2873) (TTY/TDD use 1-800-835-5510. Outside the state of New Jersey, call (800) 422-4453. They are available and will respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a child is in immediate danger, you should call 911.

Who Is Responsible For Reporting Suspected Child Abuse In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, ANY person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected has a legal responsibility to report it to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. A concerned caller does not need proof to report an allegation of child abuse and can make the report anonymously. Any person who knowingly fails to report suspected abuse or neglect according to the law or to comply with the provisions of the law is a disorderly person and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months imprisonment, or both.

How Do I Report Child Abuse In New Jersey?
Call New Jersey’s Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1 (877) NJ ABUSE (652-2873) (TTY/TDD use 1 (800) 835-5510. Outside the state of New Jersey, call (800) 422-4453. They are available and will respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a child is in immediate danger, you should call 911.

Do Callers Have Immunity From Civil Or Criminal Liability?
Any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect or testifies in a child abuse hearing resulting from such a report is immune from any criminal or civil liability as a result of such action. Calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously.

What Happens When I Call The Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline?
The hotline is answered by trained caseworkers who know how to respond to reports of child abuse/neglect. This caseworker may ask you about:

  • Who: The child and parent/caregiver’s name, age and address and the name of the alleged perpetrator and that person’s relationship to the child.
  • What: Type and frequency of alleged abuse/neglect, current or previous injuries to the child and what caused you to become concerned.
  • When: When the alleged abuse/neglect occurred and when you learned of it.
  • Where: Where the incident occurred, where the child is now and whether the alleged perpetrator has access to the child.
  • How: How urgent the need is for intervention and whether there is a likelihood of imminent danger for the child.

 
What Happens After I Make The Call?
When a report indicates that a child may be at risk, the Division of Child Protection & Permanency will promptly investigate the allegations of child abuse and neglect within 24 hours of receipt of the report.

We all care about children. We urge you to report any concern about the welfare of a child to DCP&P, the legal authorities responsible for investigating suspected situations of abuse. You should call 1 (877) NJ-ABUSE and let them know the details of your concern. They will take the matter seriously and gather information that is in the best interest of the child.

We teach our children all sorts of tools for staying safe – looking both ways before crossing the street, avoiding hot stovetops, knowing how to dial 911. There is a set of knowledge of body safety which, taught to children early and discussed frequently, can help protect them from sexual abuse. These straightforward include:

  1. Teach children the correct names for parts; they should be no less comfortable referring to a penis or vagina than to an elbow or knee.
  2. Teach children that some body parts – such as those covered by a bathing suit – are private. No one should touch or look at their private parts, except a caregiver or a doctor to help make sure they are clean and healthy, and no one should ask them to touch someone else’s private parts. 
  3. Tell children that nobody should ever take pictures of their private parts. 
  4. Discuss the difference between surprises and secrets. Nobody should ask a child to keep a secret from their parents.
  5. Teach children that they can say no if someone asks them to do something that feels wrong – and that they can walk away, or ask an adult or a peer to leave. Let them know that there won’t be repercussions for telling you if someone made them uncomfortable.
  6. Together, crate a list of “trusted adults” that children can talk to if someone or something is making them uncomfortable.
  7. Help children to understand about boundaries and consent – their own as well as those of others. 

While child abuse is extremely prevalent, it is important for parents and caregivers to know that there are steps they can take to protect their children. These include being able to recognize red flags, creating safety measures for online usage, and helping to build resilience. Teaching children about body safety online safety can also empower them to keep themselves safe..

Regularly check the apps on all technology used by your children. Try out the apps and see how they work. Learn the access, privacy, and messaging policy of each app, and read the fine print.

• Enable parental controls which give you the ability to restrict access and monitor messaging.

• Directly supervise children under 8 in any technology use.

• Make sure that location services are turned off on all devices.

• Ensure that your child uses YOUR name and email, not their own, for all games and apps that ask them to create an ID or give any information.

• Talk to your child regularly, in an age-appropriate way, about potential consequences of interacting with people online, especially sending pictures and messages of a sexual nature. • Reassure children that they should not be afraid to tell you if they made a mistake (i.e. accepted a request from someone they didn’t know or sent an inappropriate picture) and that you will work it out together.

• Let children know that they should ALWAYS tell you if someone online makes them uncomfortable.