NEW YORK (AP) — The number of U.S. children victimized by abuse and neglect increased by nearly 3 percent in the latest annual reporting period, according to new federal data.
According to the report released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services, the estimated number of victimized children in the 2014 fiscal year was 702,208 — up from 682,307 in 2013.
The report estimated fatalities attributable to child abuse and neglect at 1,580 — up from 1,530 in 2013.
HHS said Rafael Lopez, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, had sought input from child welfare officials in states with the increases in reported abuse and neglect. According to Lopez, the officials cited substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence as factors contributing to the increased maltreatment.
"We need to shift our focus to the front-end prevention of child abuse and neglect and make sure that families get the help they need when they need it," Lopez said.
States with more than 30 percent increases in maltreatment over the past five years include Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, according to the report.
About 70 percent of the fatalities in 2014 involved children younger than 3, and parents were the perpetrators in 80 percent of the cases. Georgia, Illinois, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Michigan had the highest rates of child fatalities.
Overall, white children accounted for about 44 percent of the victims of maltreatment, black children about 21 percent and Hispanic children about 23 percent. Smaller percentages were Asian, Native American and mixed race.
Seventy-five percent of the victims suffered neglect, 17 percent were physically abused and 8.3 percent were sexually abused. The report tallied 58,105 children who were sexually abused in 2014 — down considerably from the peak of about 150,000 in 1992.
The report, formally known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, is based on input from child protection agencies in every state.