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Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems that can have long-term impact on health, opportunity, and wellbeing. Anyone inflential in the lives of children should understand the problems of child abuse and neglect and prevent them.

What are child abuse and neglect?

Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). They can have long-term impacts on health, opportunity, and wellbeing. This issue includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as a religious leader, a coach, a teacher) that results in harm, the potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. 

There are four common types of abuse and neglect:

Physical Abuse
The intentional use of physical force that can result in physical injury. Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.​
Sexual Abuse
Involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities. 
​Emotional Abuse
Behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name-calling, shaming, rejecting, withholding love, and threatening.
The failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, and having feelings validated and appropriately responded to.​

How big is the problem?

Child abuse and neglect are common. At least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year in the United States. This is likely an underestimate because many cases are unreported. In 2020, 1,750 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.

Children living in poverty experience more abuse and neglect. Experiencing poverty can place a lot of stress on families, which may increase the risk for child abuse and neglect. Rates of child abuse and neglect are 5 times higher for children in families with low socioeconomic status.

Child maltreatment is costly. In the United States, the total lifetime economic burden associated with child abuse and neglect was about $592 billion in 2018. This economic burden rivals the cost of other high-profile public health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.​

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What are the consequences?

Children who are abused and neglected may suffer immediate p​​hysical injuries such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones. They may also have emotional and psychological problems, such as anxiety or posttraumatic stress.

Over the long term, children who are abused or neglected are also at increased risk for experiencing future violence victimization and perpetration, substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections, delayed brain development, lower educational attainment, and limited employment opportunities.

Chronic abuse may result in toxic stress, which can change brain development and increase the risk for problems like posttraumatic stress disorder and learning, attention, and memory difficulties.​

How can we prevent child abuse and neglect?​

Child abuse and neglect are preventable. Certain factors may increase or decrease the risk of perpetrating or experiencing child abuse and neglect. To prevent child abuse and neglect violence, we must understand and address the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence. Everyone benefits when children have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. CDC developed Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Resource for Action [4 MB, 50 Pages] to help communities use the best available evidence to prevent child abuse and neglect. This resource is available in English and Spanish [21MB, 52 Pages, 508] and can impact individual behaviors and relationships, family, community, and societal factors that influence risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect.

Different types of violence are connected and often share root causes. Child abuse and neglect are linked to other forms of violence through shared risk and protective factors. Addressing and preventing one form of violence may have an impact on preventing other forms of violence.


Reporting Child Abuse

​​Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children​
Child Abuse Reports and Substantiated ​​Reports for Kane County​

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

The Kane County Health Department regularly coordinates educational webinars for the public. On April 24, 2024, Jennifer Samartano from Prevent Child Abuse Illinois presented "The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children." We invite you to watch the recording of that presentation. 

The Effects of Violence on Children
Passcode: wC4J*C80

​​Childhood Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Five Cs of Positive Youth Development
How Brains are Built
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois ACEs Project
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The Lisa Project


CDC: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
Child Abuse and Neglect Gateway
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)​ 
Community Crisis Center, Elgin, IL​
Domestic Abuse Hotline
Kane County State's Attorney Office
Mutual Ground, Aurora, IL
National Link Coalition​
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois​
Promising Futures Without Violence​
Saving Pets (and Yourself) from Domestic Violence

​Page c​ontent source: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/fastfact.html​​