Objectives. To estimate the lifetime prevalence of official investigations for child maltreatment among children in the United States.

Methods. We used the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child Files (2003–2014) and Census data to develop synthetic cohort life tables to estimate the cumulative prevalence of reported childhood maltreatment. We extend previous work, which explored only confirmed rates of maltreatment, and we add new estimations of maltreatment by subtype, age, and ethnicity.

Results. We estimate that 37.4% of all children experience a child protective services investigation by age 18 years. Consistent with previous literature, we found a higher rate for African American children (53.0%) and the lowest rate for Asians/Pacific Islanders (10.2%).

Conclusions. Child maltreatment investigations are more common than is generally recognized when viewed across the lifespan. Building on other recent work, our data suggest a critical need for increased preventative and treatment resources in the area of child maltreatment.


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Hyunil Kim, MSW, Christopher Wildeman, PhD, Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD, MSW, and Brett Drake, PhD, MSWHyunil Kim, Melissa Jonson-Reid, and Brett Drake are with Brown School of Social Work and Public Health, Washington University, St Louis, MO. Christopher Wildeman is with the College of Human Ecology and the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. “Lifetime Prevalence of Investigating Child Maltreatment Among US Children”, American Journal of Public Health 107, no. 2 (February 1, 2017): pp. 274-280.


PMID: 27997240