Physical abuse

An injury to a child that is not an accident; for example, hurting a child by hitting, burning, biting, or shaking.

Sexual abuse

Any sexual contact with a child, including exhibitionism, photographs or films, or prostitution.


Failure to give the child food, clothing, medical care, shelter, or supervision.

Emotional abuse and neglect

An abusive parent may scare a child by threatening to leave him or her, or may be severely critical. A neglectful parent may not spend any time with the child or may never show the child any affection.

What is child maltreatment?

Child abuse is any maltreatment of a child that results in harm or injury.

PHYSICAL abuse – an injury to a child that is not an accident; for example, hurting a child by hitting, burning, biting, or shaking.

SEXUAL abuse – any sexual contact with a child, including exhibitionism, photographs or films, or prostitution.

NEGLECT – failure to give the child food, clothing, medical care, shelter, or supervision.

EMOTIONAL abuse and neglect – an abusive parent may scare a child by threatening to leave him or her, or may be severely critical. A neglectful parent may not spend any time with the child or may never show the child any affection.

Call 1-800-CHILDREN for more information or referrals.

Good information (including a cost analysis of the effects of child abuse) is also available on the PCAA website by following this LINK.

There is also good information at the Center for Disease Control website. Follow this link to visit their site.

Warning Signs of Child Abuse

Children who are abused may show physical and behavioral signs. Please pay attention to the treatment of children around you. You may be a child’s only lifeline to safety. Child abuse is everyone’s business.

GENERAL SIGNS are present in children who seem:

  • Nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults
  • Reluctant to go home (for example, coming to school early or staying late)
  • Very passive and withdrawn – or aggressive and disruptive
  • Tired a lot or complaining of nightmares or insomnia
  • Fearful and anxious
  • To show sudden changes in behavior or school performance


  • Unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes, and other injuries
  • Apparent fear of a parent or caretaker
  • Faded bruises or healing injuries after missing school


  • Difficulty walking or sitting, or other indications of injury in the genital area
  • Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond what is normal for age
  • Running away from home


  • Missing school a lot
  • Begging/stealing money or food
  • Lacking needed medical or dental care
  • Being frequently dirty
  • Using alcohol or other drugs
  • Saying there is no one at home to take care of them


  • Acting overly mature or immature for age
  • Extreme changes in behavior
  • Delays in physical or emotional development
  • Attempted suicide
  • Lack of emotional attachment to the parent. Also, know the

Consider the possibility of abuse if a parent or caretaker:

  • Seems unconcerned about the child’s welfare at school or at home
  • Denies problems at school or at home, or blames the child for them
  • Sees the child as worthless or as a burden
  • Avoids discussing the child’s injuries or gives conflicting explanations for them
  • Seems isolated from other parents, and school and community activities
  • Uses harsh physical discipline or asks other caretakers to use it
  • Depends on the child for emotional support
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • Seems indifferent to the child
  • Seems secretive or tries to isolate the children from other children
  • Frequently blames, belittles, or insults the child These signs don’t prove that a child is being abused. But they could be a signal that the child and his or her family need help.

Child Abuse Statistics

The Facts
There are statistics, and there are facts. The fact is that when all children don’t have an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development, we put our future at risk. Since the average age of children reported as neglected or abused is less than six years of age, we are focusing on innovative programs that either prevent or intervene early on. These programs help lay strong foundations for children’s growth and development, reducing the possibility of more serious (and expensive) problems later.

Minnesota Statistics

  • Minnesota counties and the Leech Lake and White Earth Bands of Ojibwe provided a child protective services response to19,602 accepted reports of maltreatment involving 25,297 unique children in 2013.
  • Of all accepted maltreatment reports, 14,177 (72 percent) received a Family Assessment child protective services response.
  • Of the 5,083 Family Investigations, maltreatment was determined to have occurred in 2,767 investigations (with 4,171 associated victims)
  • Of the 342 Facility Investigations, maltreatment was determined to have occurred in 104 investigations (with 175 associated victims).
  • Neglect was the most common allegation of maltreatment, found in 64 percent of Family Assessments and 54 percent of Family Investigations. This includes neglecting to provide adequate food, clothing or shelter, endangerment, educational neglect, abandonment and inadequate supervision. Medical neglect is counted separately.
  • School personnel and law enforcement made 50 percent of all maltreatment reports to local child protection agencies.
  • The need for ongoing protective services was identified in 48 percent of Family Investigations and 16 percent of Family Assessments. Another 13 percent of Family Assessments were offered optional supportive services.
  • American Indian and African American/Black children had the highest rates of contact with the child protection system. They were six and three times more likely to be reported as abused or neglected than were White children, respectively.
  • Fewer than 3 percent of all determined victims had at least one subsequent determined report of maltreatment within six months.


National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect

Who were the child victims?
All 52 States submitted data to NCANDS about the dispositions of children who received one or more CPS responses. For FFY 2011, more than 3.7 million (duplicate count) children were the subjects of at least one report. One fifth of these children were found to be victims with dispositions of substantiated (18.5%), indicated (1.0%), and alternative response victim (0.5%). The remaining four fifths of the children were found to be non-victims of maltreatment. The duplicate count of child victims tallies a child each time he or she was found to be a victim. The unique count of child victims counts a child only once regardless of the number of times he or she was found to be victim during the reporting year.

For FFY 2011, 51 States reported (unique count) 676,569 victims of child abuse and neglect. The unique victim rate was 9.1 victims per 1,000 children in the population. Using this rate, the national estimate of unique victims for FFY 2011 was 681,000. Comparing 2011 (unique count) victim data to 2010 data, 42 States reported a decreased number of victims. Other victim demographics include:

  • Victims in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 21.2 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.
  • Victimization was split between the sexes with boys accounting for 48.6 percent and girls accounting for 51.1 percent. Fewer than 1 percent of victims were of unknown sex.
  • Eighty seven percent of (unique count) victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities— African American (21.5%), Hispanic (22.1%), and White (43.9%).

What were the most common types of maltreatment?
As in prior years, the greatest percentage of children suffered from neglect. A child may have suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment and was counted once for each maltreatment type. CPS investigations or assessments determined that for unique victims:

  • more than 75 percent (78.5%) suffered neglect
  • more than 15 percent (17.6%) suffered physical abuse
  • less than 10 percent (9.1%) suffered sexual abuse

How many children died from abuse or neglect?
Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. For FFY 2011, 51 States reported a total of 1,545 fatalities. Based on these data, a nationally estimated 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect. Analyses are performed on the number of child fatalities for whom case level data were obtained:

  • The overall rate of child fatalities was 2.10 deaths per 100,000 children.
  • Four fifths (81.6%) of all child fatalities were younger than 4 years old.
  • Boys had a higher child fatality rate than girls at 2.47 boys per 100,000 boys in the population. Girls died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 1.77 per 100,000 girls in the population.
  • Nearly 90 percent (86.5%) of child fatalities were comprised of African American (28.2%), Hispanic (17.8%), and White (40.5%) victims.
  • Four fifths (78.3%) of child fatalities were caused by one or more parents.

Who abused and neglected children?
A perpetrator is the person who is responsible for the abuse or neglect of a child. Fifty States reported case level data about perpetrators using unique identifiers. In these States, the total duplicated count of perpetrators was 885,003 and the total unique count of perpetrators was 508,849. For 2011:

  • Four fifths (84.6%) of unique perpetrators were between the ages of 20 and 49 years.
  • More than one half (53.6%) of perpetrators were women, 45.1 percent of perpetrators were men, and 1.3 percent were of unknown sex.
  • Four fifths (80.8%) of duplicated perpetrators were parents.
  • Of the duplicated perpetrators who were parents, 87.6 percent were the biological parents.

Who received services?
CPS agencies provide services to children and their families, both in their homes and in foster care. Reasons for the provision of services may include 1) preventing future instances of child maltreatment and 2) remedying conditions that brought the children and their family to the attention of the agency. During 2011, for the duplicate count of children:

  • Forty six States reported approximately 3.3 million children received prevention services.
  • Based on data from 40 States, 1,046,947 duplicate children received post response services from a CPS agency.
  • Three fifths (61.2%) of duplicate victims and nearly one third (30.1%) of duplicate non-victims received post response services.

Another good resource for information is the Center for Disease Control website. Visit their site by following this link.

Reporting Child Abuse

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call child protection services in your Minnesota County or call 1-800-CHILDREN to speak with someone at Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota who can help you find the contact information you need. This LINK will give you telephone numbers for the Child Protection Services in all Minnesota counties.

You may also follow this link to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Go here for Minnesota's Mandated Reporting Law.