Child Abuse Statistics

Every hour of every day, there is allegation of child abuse in Tennessee. Unfortunately, child abuse is a problem in every county and community across Tennessee.

Important Facts:

  • A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the U.S. 
  • More than 3 million children are subjects of at least one child abuse case each year. 
  • Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. 
  • About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • About 90% of children who are victims of abuse know their abuser.
  • Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members. 
  • About 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by the people the family trusts.
  • The median age for reported abuse is nine years old. 
  • In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States.
  • The youngest children were most vulnerable to maltreatment. Children in the first year of their life had the highest rate of victimization of 24.2 per 1,000 children in the national population of the same age.
  • 1 in 5 youth, ages 10 to 17, receive sexual solicitation or are approached online. 
  • Only one third of households with internet access protect their children with filtering or blocking software. 

How do I know?

  • Evidence that a child has been sexually abused is not always obvious, and many children do not report that they have been abused. Only around 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused. Of these, 40% tell a close friend rather than an adult or authority, which does not always result in a formal report. 
  • Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 4% to 8% of all reported cases. Most fabricated reports are made by adults involved in custody disputes or by adolescents. (Darkness to Light)
  • For a full list of abuse signs, click here (English) or click here (Spanish).

The Long-term Effects of Child Abuse: 

  • Health and Behavioral Problems: Sexually abused children who report their abuse and are not believed or do not receive appropriate care are at greater risk for psychological, emotional, social and physical problems throughout their lifetime. It is extremely important to react calmly, appropriately and remain supportive if a child reports abuse.
  • Drug and/or Alcohol Problems: Victims of child sexual abuse are at greater risk for developing drug and alcohol related problems. Reports indicate that adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse demonstrate a three to four-fold increase in rates of substance abuse and dependence. 
  • Teenage Pregnancy and Sexual Health: Girls who are victims of sexual abuse are 2.2 times more likely to become teen mothers. Forty-five percent of pregnant teens report a history of child abuse. Abused or neglected children are also more likely to engage in sexual risk-taking as they reach adolescence, thereby increasing their chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Victims of child sexual abuse are at a higher risk for rape in adulthood, and the rate of risk increases according to the severity of the child sexual abuse experience. 
  • Crime: Adolescents that reported victimization (i.e., sexual abuse or physical abuse) were more likely to be arrested than their non-abused peers.
  • Many Victims – One Perpetrator: Seventy percent of child sex offenders report having between one and nine victims. Twenty percent report having as many as 40 victims. 
  • Societal Consequences: The Center for Disease Control recently estimated the lifetime burden of a new substantiated case of nonfatal child maltreatment to be $210,012 per victim. This includes immediate costs, as well as loss of productivity and increased healthcare costs in adulthood.

This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.