Statistics on Child Neglect and Abuse

Given the statistics of child neglect and abuse, the society needs to be vigilant to the symptoms of abuse. Therefore, child welfare services are given the proper guide to help children that may be suffering from neglect and exploitation. Every year there are many cases of child endangerment; either it’s a form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect from family and friends. Ultimately, many children are suffering throughout the country. Thus, there are child protective services.

Child Welfare policies are to protect children whose safety and wellbeing are compromised.

Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) works on behalf of children who are suffering with any type of abuse. They report and investigate cases of child abuse allegations. They also help find foster homes to place children who are in need of protection. Administration of Children’s Services also helps families who are struggling with adoption (ACS 2003). Children experience different kinds of abuse that are not physical or sexual, thus abuse is not just the bruises on the child’s body.

Children also experience emotional abuse such as screaming, being degraded, or being locked away. These sorts of abuses lead children to feel no affection and a sense of abandonment.

Child Welfare began in the early 17th and 18th centuries but later, in the early 20th century it emerged into a government funded system. The history of Child Welfare was divided into three eras in America. It reaches back as late as colonial times, where it was relatively a new system with little to no awareness within the society.

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The first era starts from then to 1875, which is recognized as the era before it was an organized system. The second era began from 1875 to 1962. Throughout this period, there were many nongovernment funded child protection charities and agencies. Ultimately, the safety of children was left to those agencies. After the second era, Child services advanced into a government funded Child Protective Services (CPS), which is recognized as the third ear. The third era began in the 1962 (Myers, 2008).

Child abuse has been taking place even before the first era began. There have been many children who were physical abuse and neglect by their own parents. There were no agencies protecting battered children. Many cases were dismissed because of the lack of awareness. By the time the first era appear, there was a nine-year-old girl by the name of Mary Ellen Wilson who had lived with her custodians at the time she was physically abuse and neglected. Mary reach out to one of her pastor by the name of Ms. Wheeler who took it upon herself to seek help for Mary by trying to involve the police, however, they ignore it. Ms. Wheeler decided to take it further by reaching out to someone who works for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). They were able to help rescued Mary from her custodians (Sallie, 1990). Shortly after the ASPCA advocate helped them, Mary recognized that there wasn’t any government or non-governmental agencies that was put in place to help protect children.

Eventually The New York Times shed light on the case by printing that, “Mary Ellen’s case led Bergh, Gerry and the philanthropist John D. Wright to found the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in December 1874. It was believed to be the first child protective agency in the world” (2009). The society has been more involved as the issues have been brought to light. After the Mary Ellen’s breakthrough, there have been multiple rescues of battered children. There have been created new shelters to care for them. Similar agencies have been working throughout the nation to inaugurate laws to protect children and punish abusive parents or family members. In the 1970’s government began to play a role to protect children from neglect and abuse.

The child abuse studies and cases started gaining more awareness when pediatrician Henry Kempe wrote an article about “ The Battered Child Syndrome.” The battered child syndrome is a clinical condition when a child has been a constant victim of a severe physical abuse that causes permanent injuries or even death. He wrote that the syndrome should be kept in mind by pediatricians in cases of “ fractures, subdural hematoma, failure to thrive, soft tissue swellings or skin bruising, in any child who dies suddenly, or where the degree and type of injury is at variance” (Henry 1985). With his article, Kempe spread awareness to people in certain areas who had the advantage of noticing signs of abuse. For example, educators, police officers or doctors are able to notice signs of abuse that some family members or friends will not be able to notice. This awareness made it harder for the abuser to hide the signs. Because if a child is admitted with a broken rib, pediatricians are encourage to think that it may be a sign of physical abuse.


  1. ACS Neighborhood Based Services (2003, July). Parents’ Guide to NYS Child Abuse and Neglect Laws. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. Kemp, H. (1985). The battered-child syndrome. Child Abuse & Neglect, 9(2), 143–154.
  3. MYERS, J. (2008). A Short History of Child Protection in America. Family Law Quarterly, 42(3), 449-463. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  4. NY Times. (2009, December 14). Case Shined First Light on Abuse of Children. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  5. Sallie A. W. (November 1990). The Mary Ellen Myth: Correcting Child Welfare History, Social Work, Volume 35, Issue 6, Pages 500–503

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Statistics on Child Neglect and Abuse. (2021, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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