Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Infant Abuse in the U.S.

In its MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) newsletter of April 4, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a shocking report about abuse of infants in the United States in federal fiscal year 2006 (Oct. 2005 - Sept. 2006). Data collected by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) for infants who were reported to the Child Protective Services (CPS) system indicated the greatest risk for maltreatment by parents or caregivers occurs during the first week of life followed by the first month. A total of 91,278 infants under age one (23.2 per 1,000 population) and 29,881 (32.7%) age one week or less experienced nonfatal maltreatment. When sorted by race, 43.6% victims were white, 25.2% were black or African American, 19.3% were Hispanic, 1.3% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.6% were Asian, 3.1% had multiple race/ethnicity, and 6.9% were of unknown race/ethnicity. More infants were mistreated because of neglect (68.5%) than of physical abuse (13.2%). Medical personnel were the top reporters of abuse (60.8%) followed by law enforcement personnel (21.4%), social services personnel (15.1%), parents/other relatives (8.8%), and friends/neighbors (3.2%).

In addition to the report, the CDC has released a transcript of a web cast about this story that gives further information about the statistics, the problem, and possible solutions.