A new study conducted by Yale University researchers finds about 12% of American children by the time they reach age 18 experience a confirmed case of maltreatment in the form of neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
The numbers are even more sobering for black and Native American children, with one in five black children and one in seven Native American children experiencing maltreatment during the time period studied. The results are published in the June 2 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The authors estimated the cumulative prevalence of confirmed childhood maltreatment by age 18 using the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File, which includes information on all U.S. children with a confirmed report of maltreatment. Analysis of data between 2004 and 2011 showed that over 5.6 million children had experienced maltreatment during this time period.
Wildeman, his colleagues at other institutions, and in the Yale Departments of Pediatrics and Sociology, provide cumulative, rather than annual, estimates that confirmed child maltreatment is common.
"Maltreatment is on the scale of other major public health concerns that affect child health and well-being," he said. "Because child maltreatment is also a risk factor for poor mental and physical health outcomes throughout life, the results of this study provide valuable epidemiologic information."