Change Indicator

Child abuse and neglect assessments in North Dakota

Child abuse and neglect assessments

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Why This Indicator Matters

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Definition and Source



This indicator represents the total number of official assessments made to the North Dakota Department of Human Services (NDDHS) on behalf of a child where there was the suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Child abuse and neglect refers to any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver which results in the 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.

Physical harm refers to any non-accidental physical injury to the child, and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child. Sexual abuse involves sexual contact between a child and an adult or significantly older, more powerful person. Sexual abuse may include other exploitative behaviors such as inappropriate sexual comments made to a child, taking or showing sexually explicit photographs or exposing a child to pornography or adult sexual activity. Emotional harm refers to injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response or cognition, or as evidenced by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior. A neglected child, also referred to as a deprived child, refers to a child who 1) is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, emotional health, or morals, and the deprivation is not due primarily to the lack of financial means of the child’s parents, guardian, or other custodian; 2) has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; 3) is without proper parental care, control, education, or other care and control necessary for the child’s well-being because of the physical, mental, emotional, or other illness or disability of the child’s parent or parents, and that such lack of care is not due to a willful act of commission or act of omission by the child’s parents, and care is requested by a parent; 4) is in need of treatment and whose parents, guardian, or other custodian have refused to participate in treatment as ordered by the juvenile court; 5) was subject to prenatal exposure to chronic and severe use of alcohol or any controlled substance in a manner not lawfully prescribed by a practitioner; 6) is present in an environment subjecting the child to exposure to a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia. Abandonment of a child refers to a situation in which 1) the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown, 2) the child has been left by the parent in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, or 3) the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or to provide reasonable support for a specified period of time. 

The North Dakota Century Code mandates certain persons (those who have contact with children as a part of their professional duties) to report incidents of suspected child abuse or neglect. Any person may report an incident. The NDDHS or its designated agent, a regional or county Child Protection Service (CPS) social worker, will respond to the report by conducting an assessment of the family being reported. This process allows for the assessment of present safety of the child(ren) and the risk of future maltreatment, while simultaneously noting family strengths and needs. These strengths, along with any necessary service interventions, may lead to the amelioration of child maltreatment within a particular family. The CPS social workers use a risk assessment tool to help direct the intervention and assessment process. CPS teams determine if - 1) services are required, or 2) services are not required. Services are required if a high level of risk is determined to exist for the child(ren), and/or the family’s needs are such that immediate service is required in order to lessen the safety risk. When it is determined that services are required, North Dakota Century Code requires a referral to Juvenile Court and a social worker (case manager) must be assigned to coordinate services. If no services are required, it has been determined that - 1) no to low risk for the child(ren) exists; and/or 2) the CPS team suggests a discussion with the family on the availability of services, which are unrelated to any specific risk factors; or 3) the family’s service need is nonexistent. Services may be offered or recommended to the family even though no services are required for the protection of a child.

Data Source

North Dakota Department of Human Services, Children and Family Services.


NA - Data is suppressed where the number is five or less, or could be used to identify another geography with five or less.
GEOGRAPHY - Data reflect the location of the assessment. Beginning with FFY 2016 data, numbers for McLean County include Mercer, McLean, Oliver and Sheridan counties (i.e., Dakota Central Social Services).
DATE - 1996 through 2005 data reflect the Calendar Year (January 1 - December 31). Beginning with 2006 data, the numbers reflect the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) (October 1 - September 30).
NOTE - In an effort to coordinate with federal reporting procedures, data regarding child abuse and neglect are presented for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) (October-September) rather than for the Calendar Year (CY) (January-December). While trends are consistent between the two reporting procedures, please use caution when comparing FFY data (beginning with 2006 data) with CY data (1995 through 2005).
LIMITATIONS - Reports on child abuse and neglect from tribal lands are processed separately and are not included in these numbers.

Last Updated

July 2023