Child Abuse: DHHS Statistics 1999–2012

It is often claimed that children are safer with their mothers than with their fathers.

Feminist groups and global women’s organizations have actively capitalized on such claims by portraying fathers as violent abusers of children in their depraved campaigns. Father-perpetrated abuse is also disproportionately covered by the media while mother-perpetrated abuse is censored—if not ignored entirely.

In this article, I examine the empirical basis of this claim using data from 14 years of child abuse reports published in the United States.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (1988)

In the United States, there are mandatory child abuse reporting laws that require professionals and institutions to report any suspected maltreatment to a Child Protective Services (CPS) agency.

Following the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1988, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was directed to establish a national data collection and analysis program, the ‘National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’ (NCANDS). The DHHS has since published data collected through the NCANDS every year in the form of their Child Maltreatment reports.

Data Analysis

The following is an analysis of data aggregated from the abuse and fatalities tables from the DHHS Child Maltreatment reports from 1999 and 2012.

Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 1999–2012
Child Abuse and Neglect Child Fatalities
Mother Only 3,344,668 4,046
Mother and Other 516,230 1,438
Mother Total 3,860,898 5,484
Father Only 1,563,136 2,156
Father and Other 87,457 213
Father Total 1,650,593 2,369
Total number of incidents involving one parent alone, or with non-parent Other
5,511,491 7,853
Percentage of incidents involving one parent alone, or with non-parent Other
Mother Involved (but not father) 70.1% 69.8%
Father Involved (but not mother) 29.9% 30.2%

The DHHS data clearly show that 70.1% of the children abused by one parent, were abused by their mothers and 69.8% of children killed by one parent, were killed by their mothers. Furthermore, mothers have been the predominant abusers and killers of children throughout this entire period of 14 years.

[All tables and download links can be found at the end of the post.]

The big confound here is that women’s violence against children are among the most under-reported, and under-researched in the field. It’s not just that child abuse tends to play out in isolated environments, women can easily intimidate their victims into silence because they are placed in a unique position of power with regards to children. With regards to child fatalities, a significant number of deaths registered as Sudden Infant Deaths (SID) are likely to be covert murders by mothers.

The DHHS’ findings have only extended what has already been apparent in history: Violence by Women.

Children are safer with their fathers than with their mothers.


Tables
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2012
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-13, p. 46)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-4, p. 58)
Mother Only 250,553 318
Mother and Other 40,495 147
Father Only 127,654 200
Father and Other 6,399 25
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2011
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-H, p. 23)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-E, p. 59)
Mother Only 253,107 305
Mother and Other 38,927 150
Father Only 130,670 177
Father and Other 6,150 20
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2010
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-10, p. 42)
Child Fatalities
(Table 5-4, p. 56)
Mother Only 265,022 337
Mother and Other 39,597 108
Father Only 135,808 198
Father and Other 6,365 19
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2009
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-9, p. 39)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-6, p. 64)
Mother Only 270,087 341
Mother and Other 39,468 122
Father Only 133,268 185
Father and Other 6,411 17
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2008
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-15, p. 51)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 62)
Mother Only 271,595 358
Mother and Other 42,437 119
Father Only 128,262 170
Father and Other 6,280 19
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2007
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-15, p. 52)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 62)
Mother Only 269,330 347
Mother and Other 39,977 96
Father Only 124,761 208
Father and Other 6,235 11
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2006
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-18, p. 62)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 72)
Mother Only 284,326 288
Mother and Other 43,175 121
Father Only 125,353 138
Father and Other 7,015 16
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2005
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-16, p. 58)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 67)
Mother Only 265,754 287
Mother and Other 40,675 104
Father Only 120,473 159
Father and Other 7,058 16
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2004
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-20, p. 63)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 70)
Mother Only 196,257 307
Mother and Other 34,294 91
Father Only 92,492 141
Father and Other 5,820 12
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2003
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-13, p. 50)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 60)
Mother Only 221,153 250
Mother and Other 34,038 67
Father Only 101,848 149
Father and Other 5,878 7
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2002
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-11, p. 45)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-5, p. 58)
Mother Only 243,320 294
Mother and Other 32,459 82
Father Only 115,375 150
Father and Other 5,827 13
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2001
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 4-4, p. 50)
Child Fatalities
(Table 5-4, p. 56)
Mother Only 241,289 278
Mother and Other 38,195 100
Father Only 105,588 122
Father and Other 6,238 13
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 2000
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 4-3, p. 52)
Child Fatalities
(Table 5-5, p. 59)
Mother Only 167,847 197
Mother and Other 26,790 59
Father Only 69,832 112
Father and Other 8,273 20
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment 1999
Child Abuse and Neglect
(Table 3-2, p. 35)
Child Fatalities
(Table 4-4, p. 42)
Mother Only 145,028 139
Mother and Other 25,703 72
Father Only 51,752 47
Father and Other 3,544 5

13 thoughts on “Child Abuse: DHHS Statistics 1999–2012

  1. Interesting.

    I don’t agree that the data supports the conclusion that: “Children are safer with their fathers than with their mothers.” Appropriate adjustments needs to be made for contact time, visit frequency, visit duration, impact from “other”, severity, trends etc.

    However, the numbers did surprise me.

    If asked to guess before reading this, I would have said ~90% of abuses were attributed to fathers. Even allowing for significant adjustments, these figures would seem to put my guess well off the mark and make me think we need a better evidence-based dialogue about these issues.

    I think this website is biased and unfair to women in the selection and interpretation of its topics. But I do appreciate the research and I do like to be made aware of my own biases – like this article did. So thank you for that.

  2. These stats are absurd because you do not give the whole numbers of children living only with their father & their mother only (or someone else).

    Given that mothers usually get to guard the children, if there are 4 times more children with their mothers then it would mean proportionnaly men are worse… Given the tradition of privileged access of women and the fact that women live longer… Your stats seem broken… Or give the figures so we can have a fair opinion…

  3. Umm …I know woman prefer to attack weak target who can’t protest by they inferior physical strength with less chance be arrested.
    You can notice the infanticide crime rate by gender as well.Although so many infanticide criminals has not been caught.

    1. Yes, preying on the weak is one thing but female crimes of this sort tend to play out in isolated environments, so nobody really notices.

      Female offenders have not been punished properly in any society and today, even horrible crimes are excused in all manner of ways. As a result, female offenses are increasing in frequency and severity.

  4. Pretty amazing this kind of data has been around for so long. But not surprising most haven’t heard it because feminists dominate the domestic violence issue.

    Think of how many rapists, as well as any other criminals, these sexrighteous feminists have created by ignoring the Child Maltreatment studies by the U. S Department of Health and Human Services for the past dew decades.

    If feminists choose to play ostrich and stick their head in the ground about maternal child abuse, then they have no right to act surprised and blame “the patriarchy” if they should happen to have an unwarranted intrusion into their not-very-naive posteriors.

  5. To the extend that these are raw numbers, they would have to be weighted for parents time spent with their children. A father that is denied access to his child will have less “opportunity” to be abuse than the child’s mother.If we use raw data, counting incidents alone, the number of mothers being abuse would likely comparatively rise, as fathers are becoming rarer in the household.

    If the frequency of violence is equal, the numbers themselves would be uneven, because mothers spent more time with children.

    If this is the case with these findings, I believe it is not proven that children are safer with their fathers, than their mothers.

    1. I’m not convinced that your argument is valid – I don’t believe it is necessarily the case that that frequency or severity of abuse is strongly correlated with parent-child contact time.

      For example, would an abusive parent who severely abused or killed their child have been less likely to do so if the contact time was reduced to, say, 80%? How about 50%?

      I agree that more data and analysis is needed to claim that women are inherently more abusive, but likewise, you need supporting evidence in order to claim that abuse of children is positively correlated with time spent with the child.

  6. This is important and shocking data and it certainly is a powerful rebuttal to the received wisdom that mothers very rarely harm their children.

    I think that your conclusion that children are safer with their fathers is however open to challenge.

    In order to make that statement you would need to compare the number of male and female perpetrators in two parent households and/or single parent households.

    If, for instance, you were to find that a smaller proportion of male single parents abuse, neglect or kill their children than female single parents, then that would support your claim.

    I’d be very interested to see that analysis

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