Report Says Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths Underreported

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A new report by the nonpartisan child advocacy group Every Child Matters Education Fund shows that the deaths of 10,440 U.S. children in the seven-year period of 2001 through 2007 were ruled to be from abuse or neglect, but that experts believe the real figure is at least 50 percent higher.

The report, We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America, provides state-by-state data on child abuse deaths, rates of poverty, expenditures on child protection and substantiated neglect and abuse complaints. In general, the report shows that states that spend more per capita on child protection substantiate more neglect and abuse complaints and have fewer abuse and neglect deaths. It also is quick to point out that no clear correlation has been shown between the amount a state spends on child protection and its number of child abuse and neglect deaths.

The report was released on the 100th anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt convening the first White House summit on child issues, and its sponsors call for an increased federal role in child protection through the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

The report shows how and why many child abuse and neglect deaths are underreported, but it doesn’t deal with whether all child deaths are investigated properly. Some authorities believe the number of unreported abuse and neglect deaths may be higher than the number actually classified as such.

Contact: Every Child Matters Education Fund, (202) 223-8177, http://www.everychildmatters.org/images/stories/pdf/wcdb_report.pdf.