Child Abuse Facts and Trends
All children’s hospitals see child abuse and neglect. In 2013, there were an estimated 679,000 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect in the U.S. including 1,520 deaths (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Whether an abused child shows up in an emergency department or abuse or neglect is suspected during a home visit, all children’s hospitals have a responsibility to provide immediate care. The responsibility is even greater knowing that much of both the inpatient and outpatient populations of children’s hospitals are at increased risk for maltreatment, especially children with special needs and children from impoverished families (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
The majority of the nation's 324 child abuse pediatricians, a subspecialty of the American Board of Pediatrics, are housed within children's hospitals. They frequently lead child protection teams that also include social workers, case managers and other clinical providers. These teams serve as a resource to children, families and communities by accurately diagnosing and treating abuse (as well as ruling out abuse); consulting with local child welfare agencies and law enforcement; testifying as experts in court; and directing child abuse and neglect prevention programs.