Substantiated child maltreatment for Maine 2000 —2021 in Maine

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Why This Indicator Matters

All children deserve to grow up in homes that are safe and emotionally nurturing. Children who experience adverse childhood experiences such as physical and emotional abuse have difficulty in school, and have more issues in mental health and physical health both as children and as adults. Although we hope substantiated child abuse goes down because there is less child abuse in families, it could also mean that the resources to investigate and evaluate reports of child abuse are inadequate to accurately assess the cases that are referred for investigation.

What the data shows
Overall, the number of substantiated child abuse victims from 2019-2021 decreased each year from 4,530 victims in 2019 to 4,263 victims, or a decrease of 6% over two years. 2019 was the highest number and rate since 2003. Part of the reason for the decrease in 2020 may have been due to the fact that the pandemic closed schools and limited access to routine pediatric medical care, so there were fewer opportunities for professionals to observe warning signs of abuse. Another factor that would point to a real decline in child abuse is that studies have shown that government investment in keeping families financially afloat -- such as expanding the child tax credit and increasing amounts of SNAP and offering free school meals--brings a significant reduction in cases of both child neglect and physical abuse. Child Abuse Rates Fell in 2020-Journal of American Medicine




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Data Provided By

Definitions: The number and rate of individual victims of child abuse and neglect ages 0-17 for whom assessment led to a finding of a threat to a child’s health or welfare by physical, mental or emotional injury or impairment, sexual abuse or exploitation, deprivation of essential needs or lack of protection from these by a person responsible for the child (22 MRSA §4002). The numerator is the unique number of children in a calendar year who are victims of child maltreatment as defined above and the denominator is the number of children in the state ages 0 -17. The rate is per 1,000 children ages 0-17. Data is for calendar years.

Data Source: Maine DHHS, Office of Child & Family Services, Division of Child Welfare

Footnotes: Updated October 2022.
County rates are available as a separate indicator for 2017-2021.