Child Maltreatment

Definition: Child maltreatment includes the physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect of a child or adolescent by an adult.

Magnitude of the Problem

Child Protective Services (CPS) estimated that there were 695,000 victims of child maltreatment in the U.S. during the 2010 fiscal year. According to a CDC study, child maltreatment costs the country close to $124 billion each year. It is associated with a number of short- and long-term health problems and injuries, such as:

  • broken bones;
  • developmental delays;
  • depression;
  • alcohol abuse;
  • heart and liver disease;
  • cancer;
  • severe obesity; and
  • elevated risk of becoming an abuser.


While providing services to children who have been abused or neglected is essential, the public health approach to child maltreatment relies on a primary prevention focus, examining and addressing risk factors associated with abuse and creating programs that support and promote healthy and safe relationships, such as home visiting programs for new parents.

Child Maltreatment