NEW YORK – The rate of child maltreatment in the U.S. dipped in 2008 to its lowest level since 1990, but the number of abuse-related child fatalities continued to rise, according to new federal figures.
The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, issued Thursday, said the estimated number of victimized children had dropped sharply, from 903,000 in 2006 to 772,000 in 2008. However, there were 1,740 reported fatalities, up from 1,330 in 2000.
Carmen Nazario, HHS assistant secretary for children and families, said she was encouraged by the decrease in maltreatment, but sounded a note of caution.
“The results show too many children still suffer from abuse and neglect, and we have not yet experienced the full impact from the economic situation,” she said.
The HHS data was for the 2008 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30, and did not reflect the recession that took hold toward the end of that year.
According to the HHS report, the rate of child victimization was 10.3 per 1,000 children in 2008, down from a peak rate of 15.3 in 1993 and the lowest since the congressionally mandated survey began in 1990.
Of the victims, 71 percent suffered neglect, 16 percent were physically abused, 9 percent were sexually abused and about 7 percent suffered psychological maltreatment.
The worst fatality rates were for infant boys. Children under 4 accounted for 80 percent of the estimated 1,740 fatalities.