Latest Nationwide Child Maltreatment Statistics Show Continuing Decline
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
April 4, 2007
Several forms of child maltreatment decreased from 2004 to 2005, adding
to more than a decade’s worth of declines, according to UNH researchers
who analyzed the latest data released Monday from the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
Rates of substantiated sexual abuse dropped by 2 percent in 2005 compared
to the previous year, capping a 51 percent total decline since 1991. Rates
of physical abuse declined by 5 percent from 2004 to 2005, making for a
total 46 percent reduction since a peak in 1992. Neglect, however, did
not decline either in the most recent year or over the longer term.
“These are very encouraging,” said Lisa Jones, research professor
at the Crimes against Children Research Center at UNH, who along with sociology
professor, David Finkelhor, has been studying these declines.
“For several years people thought these declines were statistical
flukes. Or they attributed them to changes in the way cases were being
investigated or reported,” Jones said. But, according the UNH researchers
studying these trends, the details of the declines, in addition to their
breadth and durability, have built the case for a true reduction in incidence.
For example, data from other sources have shown parallel declines, and
other related indicators such as running away, delinquency and teen suicide
also have improved.
The researchers believe the declines are related to a variety of factors.
They cite economic improvements, greater numbers of child protective workers
and police, more awareness about child maltreatment, improved parenting
practices, and more effective treatment for family and mental health problems,
including the increased use of psychiatric medications.
The new data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are
For further information about child maltreatment declines, please see:
"Why Have Child Maltreatment and Child Victimization Declined?" by
David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones, in the Journal of Social Issues, Volume