Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect

Healthy families mean healthy children, which in turn create thriving communities, a robust economy and strong nation. One way to ensure this outcome is by investing in child abuse prevention program. We know that investments in prevention and family support programs like Healthy Families America promote healthy child development and lower the number of children affected by abuse and neglect, and the financial cost to our nation in turn.

Child abuse and neglect affects over 1 million children every year, and, according to our report written by Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D. and Staci Perlman, Ph.D., child abuse and neglect costs our nation $220 million every day.

Where do these costs come from? In the immediate term, they come from investigations into reports, from foster care and from medical and mental health treatment. When considering the long-term, child abuse costs stack up due to special education, juvenile and adult crime, chronic health problems, and other costs across the life span.

In 2012, the year this report was updated, it was estimated that our nation paid a staggering $80 billion to address child abuse and neglect. Without investing in primary prevention and programs that promote healthy child development, this number will only continue to rise as time goes on.

Child abuse and neglect affect us all. Fortunately, child abuse and neglect are preventable.

Gelles and Perlman’s report, Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect, details the heavy costs of child abuse and neglect. Our hope is to awaken the nation to the change we can make. Together we can prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children.

On this page you will find the full Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect report as well as the FAQ document created to accompany this report. We are grateful to to Macy’s, Inc. for their generous funding that made this report possible. 

Download PDF 523.7KB