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Change Indicator

Children who are confirmed by child protective services as victims of maltreatment in United States

Children who are confirmed by child protective services as victims of maltreatment

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Definition and Source



Child victims are children who are subject to at least one substantiated or indicated maltreatment report. Prior to 2015, children in cases receiving alternative response were included as victims, but from 2015 onwards, these children are not included as victims to align with a change in methodology in the Children's Bureau's Child Maltreatment report. Rates of maltreated children are per 1,000 children under 18 years old. It is important to note that these numbers do not include child victims who did not come to the attention of authorities through a report of maltreatment. Because of this, and because of state differences in policies and practices—including variations in the legal definitions of maltreatment—readers should exercise caution in interpreting trends and in making state-to-state comparisons.

To the extent possible, we use the same definition of substantiation as the Child Maltreatment report. However, unlike many of the tabulations in the report, our analyses examine the number of children who were maltreated, not the number of maltreatment incidents. Since a child can be the subject of more than one maltreatment incident, the numbers of children in each category presented here will be smaller than in the report’s tabulations of incidents. Cases of maltreatment where the victim was not yet born, or was 18 years or older, are not included. State estimates are shown only for states with valid data. In the publicly-available NCANDS file, state names are suppressed on records dealing with child fatalities to protect confidentiality. Among all reported fatalities, some cases had prior investigations (in the same fiscal year) for reported maltreatment, and others did not. Prior to 2010, fatalities were included in our national totals. Beginning in 2010, our national total includes fatalities if they also had a prior investigation report that was not associated with a fatality, but otherwise fatalities are excluded. We made this exclusion because it is not possible in the public-use file to identify which of the children who died also have a record indicating a prior maltreatment investigation, and because we found that this approach yields national totals that are closer to the Children’s Bureau’s estimates (i.e., national totals are more likely to be overestimated when fatalities are included than they are to be underestimated if fatalities are excluded). Due to missing state data, national totals are not provided before 2004. National estimates after 2005 include Puerto Rico.

Data Source

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Child File, FFY 2000–2022.

U.S. Census Bureau. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Single Year of Age and Sex for the United States, States, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2022," Vintage 2022.

NCANDS data are used with the permission of Cornell University’s National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect website, The collector of the original data, the funding agency, NDACAN, Cornell University, and the agents or employees of these institutions bear no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.


National estimates include cases where the location is unidentified.
N.A. - Data not available.
N.R. - No data are reported.

Last Updated

March 2024