Child Abuse Information


Child Abuse Hotline

It is important for every person to take abuse and neglect seriously, to be able to recognize when it happens, and to know what to do next.  Care enough to call the state’s child abuse hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (Illinois).

Child Abuse Awareness Video

Video Replay of Executive Director, Kristie Sams-Faulker on Child Abuse, GoHarrison broadcast network (some graphic content)

Signs of Child Abuse

Physical Signs of Child Abuse
1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
2. Bite marks
3. Anti-social behavior
4. Problems in school
5. Fear of adults

Emotional Signs of Child Abuse
1. Apathy
2. Depression
3. Hostility or stress
4. Lack of concentration
5. Eating disorders

Sexual Signs of Child Abuse
1. Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
2. Nightmares and bed wetting
3. Drastic changes in appetite
4. Overcompliance or excessive aggression
5. Fear of a particular person or family member

Signs of Neglect
1. Unsuitable clothing for weather
2. Dirty or unbathed
3. Extreme hunger
4. Apparent lack of supervision


  • Almost five children die everyday as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.
  • It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
  • Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
  • Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
  • Thirty-one percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
  • Over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • About 80% of 21 year old that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • The estimated annual cost resulting from child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.

Consequences of Abuse

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely develop alcohol abuse
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 3.8 times more likely develop drug addiction
  • Nearly 2/3’s of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children

The Link Between Abuse As a Child & Future Criminal Behavior

  • Fourteen percent of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
  • Thirty-six percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.

The Link Between Child Abuse & Substance Abuse

  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely develop alcohol abuse
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 3.8 times more likely develop drug addictions
  • Nearly 2/3’s of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children
Sources: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and The Federal Administration for Children and Families.,Prevent Child Abuse America: Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting & Fatalities: The 2000 Fifty State Survery, National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research: Prevent Child Abuse America; Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the 1997 Annual Fifty State Survey, Lung, C. & Daro D. (1996) Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the 1995 Annual Fifty State Survey. Chicago: National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. , US Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families. Child Maltreatment 2003: Summary of Key Findings, National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect Information. Long-term Consequences of Child Abuse & Neglect 2005

Public Policy Update – CASA (July 2010)

The new health insurance reform law includes numerous provisions aimed at improving the health and well-being of children, youth and vulnerable adults.

  • The new law provides Medicaid coverage to children who have been in foster care to continue up to the age of 26, effective in 2014.
  • For children aging out of foster care and independent living programs, the new law mandates information be available about the importance of having a health care power of attorney to make health care decisions on behalf of the child who does not have a relative authorized to decide.
  • A provision of the new law expands the adoption credit and adoption assistance program, increasing each by $1,000, makes the credit refundable and extends the credit through 2011, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2009.

Excerpted from Washington Memorandum, March 24, 2010, Vol. 30, No. 5, The National Child Abuse Coalition.

The fourth wave of research on foster youth by Chapin Hall and the University of Washington was released in April, 2010, providing new evidence of outcomes for former foster youth. Commonly referenced as “the Midwest Study,” baseline interviews were first conducted with 732 foster youth ages 17–18 in 2002–2003 from the states of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. 82% of these youth participated in the fourth wave, conducted 2008–2009, when participants were 23–24 years old. It is the most comprehensive longitudinal study we have for youth transitioning out of foster care. See Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth.

Some of the interesting findings learned from these youth studies include:

  • Two thirds of respondents felt that they were fortunate to have been placed in foster care, with more than one half expressing satisfaction with their experience while in the child welfare system.
  • Even though they had originally been removed from their home for safety and protection, 79% reported feeling very close, and another 15% reported feeling somewhat close to at least one biological family member.
  • At the age of 23–24, former foster youth continue to lag behind their peers in education. One quarter did not have a high school diploma or GED, and just 6% obtained a 2- or 4- year college degree.
  • 55% of young women had given birth by the age of 21, climbing to 67% by the time they reached 23–24. Nearly all live with at least one child. Whereas only 18% of young men who have parented a child(ren) live with a child when they are 23–24.
  • Economic well-being is a hardship for this group. More than 25% had no income from employment in the past year, while 50% of those who had worked earned less than $8,000 throughout the year.
  • “Connectedness,” defined as either working or enrolled in school, is a bit more encouraging. Nearly 60% of both young women and men were working or enrolled in school by this age. When the definition is expanded to include a relationship with custodial parents, it increases to 87% of young women and 63% of young men are considered connected.

More data is available in the full report (see above link) that can be very helpful in describing the issues and outcomes for older foster youth, and in making the case for child abuse advocacy. The report also includes a chapter describing trends among foster youth throughout the time of the study, i.e., between their ages of 16-17, to age 23-24.

An equally interesting report, based upon the same research, is Distinct Subgroups of Former Foster Youth during Young Adulthood . The report applies the research to define common characteristics, experiences and outcomes among the youth. This provides a perspective that can be helpful in understanding risk and protective factors in order to best assist this youth population. The former foster youth are categorized into four subgroups, each of which is distinct from the other and clearly would require different approaches and services to support their young adulthood.

  • The largest group of former foster youth (36%) are described as Accelerated Adults, those who had to grow up and assume adult responsibilities faster than their peers. They have successfully made key transitions, such as living independently, completion of secondary education, and raising a child.
  • 25% of the sample are described as Struggling Parents. They are the least likely to have finished high school, attended college, or currently enrolled in school. Their lives are dominated by parenting at this point in time.
  • Emerging Adults, at 21% of the sample youth population, are more akin to what we would expect from the general youth population at age 23–24. They completed high school, have some college education, perhaps employment, and are less likely to have children.
  • The fourth subgroup, just 17.5 % of the study group, is described as Troubled and Troubling. This group needs more extensive services, over a longer period of time, as they have psychosocial issues and are challenged to fit within the community. They are most likely to have mental health and substance use problems, been homeless or couch surfed. They also report the lowest levels of support services and highest rate of victimization.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Maltreatment 2008, an annual report of data collected from the state child protective services (CPS) agencies via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.

According to the new report:

  • An estimated 772,000 children were found to be victims of abuse or neglect during 2008. This number shows a continued decline from 2006, when 905,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment.
  • An estimated 3.3 million referrals were made to CPS agencies in 2008, involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 6.0 million children. 62.5% of the referrals were screened.
  • An estimated 1,740 children died from abuse or neglect. 80% of fatalities were among children less than four years old; children less than one year old represent 40% of the fatalities.
  • Approximately 80.1% of perpetrators were parents, and another 6.5% were other relatives.
  • Nearly 20% of child victims became the subject of court proceedings. Court-appointed representatives were assigned to 14.7% of victims, based upon data that states were able to report to HHS.

The most recent National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, the NIS-4, found race differences in maltreatment rates, with black children experiencing maltreatment at higher rates than white children in several categories—differences that were not found in any of the previous NIS reports. A new research paper from the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE), Supplementary Analyses of Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates in the NIS-4, reports on efforts to understand this finding.
In the report, authors Andrea J. Sedlak, Karla McPherson, and Barnali Das examine two possible explanations for why the NIS-4 found statistically reliable race differences in rates of some categories of child maltreatment. They conclude that the finding is at least partly a consequence of the greater precision of the NIS-4 estimates and partly due to the enlarged gap between black and white children in economic well-being. Socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of maltreatment rates, and incomes of black families have not kept pace with incomes of white families since the NIS-3 data of 1993 (emphasis added).

Excerpted from the Children’s Bureau Express, May 2010, Vol. 11, No. 4