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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Child Abuse and Maltreatment - Indicated Reports of Child Abuse and Maltreatment

Data Provider: NYS Office of Children and Family Services


Related Indicators:

  • Child Abuse/Maltreatment-Indicated Reports of Child Abuse/Maltreatment [view data]

Life Area:



The State Central Register receives reports concerning alleged incidents of abuse and maltreatment in families and certain publicly licensed settings. A report becomes "indicated" when there is some credible evidence that a child has experienced abuse or maltreatment. This indicator presents the number of indicated reports in a given calendar year and the percentage of reports that are indicated in a given year.

The percentage is determined by dividing the total number of reports of child abuse or neglect received in the year in which at least one allegation was substantiated divided by the number of reports investigated. Reports can include more than one child and more than one type of abuse or maltreatment; therefore, this indicator is report-oriented, not child-oriented.

Beginning in late 2008, a new approach to responding to CPS reports was implemented in select counties. This alternative approach called the Family Assessment Response (FAR) is considered a CPS response even though no determination is made as to whether or not there is some credible evidence of maltreatment. Beginning in 2009, FAR data are reported in KWIC. In calculating indication rates for districts participating in FAR, their total number of reports is defined as the total number of reports minus those reports assigned to the FAR.


Children may suffer from child abuse and maltreatment regardless of their socioeconomic status or their racial or ethnic background. Incidents of abuse and maltreatment most frequently occur in the victims' own home and are perpetrated by someone they know. In addition to the immediate trauma of abuse and neglect on children, the Child Welfare Information Gateway (2006) identified some of the long-term consequences for the children, families, and societies, including:

  • Physical — Severe physical abuse or neglect can result in chronic health problems, broken bones, brain trauma or even death.
  • Psychological — Emotional effects can include fear, inability to trust, depression, anxiety, and difficulties in forming relationships.
  • Behavioral — Studies have found that abused and neglected children are at increased risk of experiencing such problems as delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, and substance abuse (Kelley et al., 1997), to be arrested as a juvenile and involved in adult or violent crime (Widom & Maxfield, 2001) and to eventually victimize their own children (Prevent Child Abuse NY, 2001).
  • Societal — The direct costs (e.g., law enforcement, child welfare system and health costs) and indirect costs (e.g., juvenile and adult criminal activity) were recently estimated at more than $94 billion per year for the United States and more than $2.4 billion per year for New York State (Prevent Child Abuse America, 2001).

The number of indicated reports of child abuse and maltreatment is an important measure of the incidence of child abuse and maltreatment in New York State. It should be noted, however, that the rate of indicated reports is affected by a number of factors other than the actual incidence of abuse and maltreatment. Therefore, some caution is required in drawing conclusions concerning the overall prevalence of abuse and maltreatment or differences between counties. First, some cases of abuse and maltreatment are never reported. Second, some incidents are reported more than once and several reports may relate to a single family. Third, reports tend to rise for reasons unrelated to the actual prevalence of abuse and maltreatment, such as a highly publicized case, a public awareness campaign or an addition to the list of those required to report suspected abuse and neglect (i.e., mandated reporters). Finally, sufficient evidence may not be available to "indicate" the report. The high rates of indicated abuse or maltreatment reports in some counties may reflect better reporting or reliance on lower standards of evidence to indicate cases. Conversely, low rates may be the result of low reporting or stricter standards of evidence.


As of 2000, the numbers include children from households and institutional settings.

New York City counts include investigations conducted by Administration for Children's Services borough field offices and the Office of Special Investigations.


  • Compared to 2005, the number of indicated reports of child abuse and maltreatment decreased from 42,102 to 31,710 in 2022. However, the total number of reports received has been trending upward after 2020 (from 138,950 to 148,914).
  • The percentage of indicated reports of child abuse and maltreatment in 2022 was higher in New York City (24.7%) than in the Rest of State (19.6%).  The percentages have changed over the years, but the gap remains wide between New York City and the Rest of State.


Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2006). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. April 2019.

Kelley, B.T., T.P. Thornberry & Smith, C.A. (1997). In the wake of childhood maltreatment. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

Prevent Child Abuse America. (2001). Total estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Online:"144." Accessed June 2006.

Prevent Child Abuse New York. (2001). Causes and consequences: The urgent need to prevent child abuse. Online: Accessed June 2006.

Widom, C.S. & Maxfield, M.G. (2001). An update on the 'cycle of violence.' Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

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