U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Child Abuse Reported to the Police

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2001
8 pages
This bulletin shows how National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data can be used to describe police experience with child abuse.
Aggregate NIBRS data from 12 States for 1997 and comparison with child welfare data reveal that: (1) incidents of child abuse committed by parents and other caretakers make up 19 percent of violent crimes against juveniles reported to the police; (2) 73 percent of those crimes are physical assaults and 23 percent are sexual assault; (3) child abuse constitutes more than one-half of the crimes against children age 2 or younger reported to the police; (4) male offenders are responsible for three-quarters of the child abuse incidents reported to the police; (5) 13 percent of parental assaults against a child reported to the police are associated with an assault against a spouse or former spouse; and (6) police data tally only a fraction of physical and sexual abuse investigated and substantiated by child welfare authorities. The bulletin concludes that the large amount of child abuse data in the NIBRS, coupled with the trend toward greater police involvement in child maltreatment cases, highlights the need for more understanding of the role law enforcement currently plays and potentially could play in responding to the problem of child abuse. Notes, figures, references

Date Published: May 1, 2001