It is estimated that 1 in 4 children experience some form of child abuse or neglect in their lifetimes and 1 in 7 children have experienced abuse or neglect in the last year. In 2021, 1,753 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States. We have assembled guidance and resources for pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers to help identify children who are victims of maltreatment, and to prevent it from happening.
Child Abuse and Neglect Overview
Child abuse and neglect is a public health problem with lifelong health consequences for survivors and their families. Experiences in childhood have a significant impact on the long term physical and mental health outcomes of adults.
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or care taker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation.” By this definition, a child is any person younger than 18 years of age who is not an emancipated minor. While federal legislation sets minimum standards for defining child abuse and neglect, each state must set and define minimum standards for child maltreatment. These definitions vary across states, however, many states recognize neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse or neglect as the main types of maltreatment.
Given their unique relationship with families, pediatricians are in an important position to address and treat child abuse and neglect. The tools, resources, and policies on this page provide pediatricians and pediatric non-physician clinicians with the information and education needed to care for children who have experienced abuse and neglect and for prevention of same.
The AAP provides recommendations and guidelines to support pediatricians and other health professionals working to help care for children experiencing abuse and neglect.
- Maltreatment of Children with Disabilities Clinical Report
- Abusive Head Trauma in Infants and Children Policy Statement
- Children Exposed to Maltreatment: Assessment and the Role of Psychotropic Medication Clinical Report
- Identifying Child Abuse Fatalities During Infancy Clinical Report
- Ongoing Pediatric Health Care for the Child Who Has Been Maltreated Clinical Report
For additional policies on child abuse and neglect, click here.
Professional Tools & Resources
Podcasts and Voices Blogs
Learn what others are saying. Listen to our podcasts and read our blog posts.
In this episode hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, talk about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and keeping kids safe during the pandemic. Bob Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP, describes how to create positive childhood experiences to counter ACEs. The hosts also discuss with Jason Nagata, MD, MSc, FAAP, the findings of a new study linking performance-enhancing substances to other drugs.
Pediatrics on Call|
September 8, 2020
This pediatric child abuse specialist asserts that, more than anything, children who are abused and neglected need a stable medical home to foster healthy physical, emotional and behavioral development.
April 16, 2019
American Academy of Pediatrics