Child maltreatment is a type of violence that affects the most vulnerable in our society, those under the age of 18. It includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.
Each year, more than 900,000 children are confirmed by protective services as being the victims of maltreatment in the United States. About 1500 children die annually from abuse or neglect.
Abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on children. Maltreatment can disrupt the development of the brain as well as compromise the nervous and immune systems. It also puts children at risk for health problems in adulthood including depression, drug abuse, obesity, and certain chronic diseases.
Child maltreatment is preventable. Prevention efforts should address all levels that influence child maltreatment—the individual, relationship, community, and society. Strategies that support parents and teach positive parenting skills are crucial to stopping child maltreatment before it begins.