Trends In Child Victimization

  • students in a classroom

There have been some fascinating and encouraging developments in child victimization that have not received much publicity and run counter to popular perception. Certain types of abuse and crimes against children have been declining since the early 1990s.

  • From 1990 to 2007, substantiated cases of child sexual abuse have declined 53% and physical abuse substantiations have declined 52%. Child neglect has declined only 6%, mostly fluctuating over the same period.
  • From 1993 to 2005, sexual assaults on teenagers decreased by 52%. The subgroup of assaults by known persons decreased even more dramatically.
  • Other crimes against children 12 to 17 years old have also declined:
    • Aggravated assault down 69%
    • Simple assault down 59%
    • Robbery down 62%
    • Larceny down 54%

While the long-term trends are encouraging, the reasons for them remain unclear. An improving economy, advances in psychopharmacology, changes in social values, and more effective interventions, are among the factors that, most likely working in concert, may have contributed to this downward trend in child victimization. Research is ongoing.


For 2022, child neglect declined 6% compared to 2021 and child maltreatment fatalities rose 6%. Learn More
[Finkelhor, D., Walsh, K., Jones, L., Sutton, S., & Opuda, E.] (2022). What works to prevent violence against children online? Geneva: World Healt... Learn More
Finkelhor, D. (2020). Trends in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Pediatrics, 108, 104641. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.10464
Learn More
This project explores the dramatic decline in sexual abuse cases that has occurred across the U.S. during the 1990s. The goals of the study are to dra... Learn More
Finkelhor D., and Jones, L. Journal of Social Issues, 62(4): 685-716. Learn More
Finkelhor, D. and Jones, L. Juvenile Justice Bulletin -- NCJ184741 (pgs. 1-12). Order #CV39 Learn More
Finkelhor, D., Jones, L. and Kopiec, K. Child Abuse & Neglect, 25(9): 1139-1158. Order #CV44 Learn More
Finkelhor, D. and Jones, L. Juvenile Justice Bulletin -- NCJ199298 (pgs. 1-12). Order #CV58 Learn More
Finkelhor D., Halter, S., and Jones, L. Child Maltreatment, 11(2): 107-120. Order #CV110 Learn More
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H.A., Ormrod, R.K., & Hamby, S.L. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 164(3): 238-242. (CV196) Learn More
Finkelhor, D. & Jones, L. Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center. (CV267) Learn More
Jones, L.M., Mitchell, K., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. Psychology of Violence (Special Issue),3(1): 53-69. (CV271) Learn More
Finkelhor, D., Shattuck, A., Turner, H.A., and Hamby, S.L. JAMA Pediatrics, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5296. Learn More
Finkelhor, D. & Johnson, M. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, DOI: 10.1177/1524838015620817. Learn More
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Crocker, B. K., Vanderminden, J., & Hamby, S. Journal of child and family studies, online first. doi:10.1007/s10826-019... Learn More
Finkelhor, D. (2013). Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center. (CV280) - Updated August 2014 Learn More