Rate of verified child abuse falls sharply in California
• Child abuse, neglect rate fell by 28 percent in last 13 years
• Heightened public awareness, prevention programs, new ways of investigation credited
DALY CITY, California – Statewide, the rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases declined steadily in the last 13 years, consistent with national trends, reports kidsdata.org of the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health .
California’s rate of substantiated cases from 1999 to 2013 fell 28 percent, from 12.4 to 8.9 cases per 1,000 children under age 18.
Child welfare experts differ on the reasons for the decline, but researchers note that heightened public awareness and prevention programs, as well as changes in how cases are investigated, may play a role.
Children ages 5 and under make up half of all substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect in California; they comprised 47 percent of all cases in 2013, up from 40 percent in 1998.
In 2013, there were 482,265 allegations of child abuse and neglect in California. Of those cases, 17 percent were substantiated (verified) by the state child welfare system.
Nearly 65 percent of these verified cases were due to general neglect rather than physical injury. Neglect consistently has been the most common type of substantiated case statewide and in nearly all counties for which these data are available.
The percentage that neglect cases comprise has been increasing since 1998. Other types of abuse, such as physical and sexual abuse, account for smaller shares.
Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness domestic violence, often exhibit emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, difficulty in school, use of alcohol and other drugs, and early sexual activity.
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