Change Indicator

Child Abuse and Neglect - Number of substantiated cases by age group in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Child abuse and neglect is defined as any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, imminent risk of serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation.[1] In Pennsylvania, all reports of child abuse or neglect are either investigated or assessed by Child Protective Services (CPS) or General Protective Services (GPS) depending on the nature of the referral. CPS conducts investigations of cases identified as abuse, such as bodily injury, mental injury, sexual exploitation, serious neglect, human trafficking, or death of a child.[2] GPS, on the other hand, conducts assessments of neglect cases that do not fall under specified categories of abuse and provides services to prevent potential harm of a child. Neglect warranting GPS assistance include abandonment, behavioral health concerns, juvenile delinquency under the age of 10, domestic violence, expulsion or truancy from school, homelessness, and failure to provide basic necessities.[3]

By examining the number of reported child abuse and neglect cases by age group, researchers are able to track longitudinal trends and changes associated with specific age groups of children who are suspected of experiencing maltreatment. Risk factors that can increase the likelihood of child maltreatment include caregiver substance use, mental health issues, and adolescent parenting; child age, health, and developmental status; family violence and parenting attitudes; and neighborhood poverty, crime, and access to high-quality public services.[4] These risk factors not only increase children’s likelihood of experiencing maltreatment, but often worsen the long-term consequences of such abuse and neglect. Maltreatment early in life can lead to physical health problems, stunted development, psychological disorders, diminished cognitive functioning, social difficulties, posttraumatic stress, sexual deviance, adult criminality, substance abuse, and future perpetration of child abuse and neglect.[5] This makes it imperative that all cases of suspected maltreatment in Pennsylvania be reported immediately to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.

[1] United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). What is Child Abuse or Neglect? What is the Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect?

[2] Rizvi, M. B., Conners, G. P., King, K. C., Lopez, R. A., & Rabiner, J. (2022). Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Risk Factors that Contribute to Child Abuse and Neglect. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. Child Abuse and Neglect | Child Welfare Information Gateway

[5] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. Safety and Risk | Child Welfare Information Gateway

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Definition and Source



Substantiated abuse includes children a judge has found were abused (“founded”) and also includes children that Child Protective Services staff determine were abused based on medical evidence, the investigation, or an admission by the perpetrator. The number of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect is the number of children for whom child abuse has been founded.

Data Source

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families.


The sum of the age groups will not total 'All Ages' due to those cases where age is unknown or the child was older than 17 years of age on the incident start date.

Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

April 2024