Statement: Recent Federal Report on Child Maltreatment Probably Reflects Budget Cuts, Not Less Child Abuse

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Jane Burstain /(512) 320-0222 x119

December 14, 2011

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Senior Policy Analyst Jane Burstain, Ph.D., on the recently released federal Child Maltreatment report. The report showed a decline in the rate of kids being identified as abuse and neglect victims in 2010 as compared to rates in 2008. Some are claiming this means that there are fewer kids being abused and neglected.

“A more likely explanation for falling rates of identified maltreatment is that budget cuts are forcing state agencies to selectively spend their limited resources on fewer cases. And, in fact, the Child Maltreatment report shows state child welfare agencies are investigating fewer abuse and neglect reports and, when they do investigate, are less likely to identify kids as a victim. So it probably isn’t that there’s less child abuse and neglect; it is more likely that with budget cuts, state agencies can do less to identify and address it."