The problem of child abuse and maltreatment.

Child abuse and maltreatment in the United States is an enduring problem. Since its identification as a medical problem in 1959, its definition has been expanded as an individual, familial, neighborhood, community and social problem. While we still have much to learn regarding its etiology, prevention and treatment, there exists some clear and consistent knowledge about the phenomenon.

For example, we now keep better statistics about the scope of the problem. In 2007, an estimated 3.2 million referrals, which included approximately 5.8 million children, were referred to Child Protective Service agencies. During 2007, these agencies screened in 61.7 percent of referrals and screened out 38.3 percent.

For more than 25 percent of investigations, at least one child was found to be a victim of maltreatment with one of the following dispositions: substantiated (24.1 percent), indicated (0.6 percent) or alternative response victim (0.5 percent). The remaining investigations led to a finding that the children were not victims of maltreatment and the report received one of the following dispositions: unsubstantiated (61.3 percent), alternative response nonvictim (6.1 percent), other (5.7 percent), closed with no finding (1.6 percent) and intentionally false (0.0 percent). An estimated 1,760 children nationally died from abuse or neglect.

During 2007, 59 percent of victims experienced neglect, 10.8 percent were physically abused, 7.6 percent were sexually abused, 4.2 percent were psychologically maltreated, less than 1 percent were medically neglected, and 13.1 percent were victims of multiple maltreatments. In addition, 4.2 percent of victims experienced other types of maltreatment such as abandonment, threats of harm to the child or congenital drug addiction.

National trends indicate that while the rate of referrals for investigation or assessment of child abuse and neglect has increased modestly in the past decade, rates of substantiated victimization have decreased slightly.

Here in New York State, 155,509 total child protective service investigations were completed in 2007, and nearly one-third (50,989) were substantiated as abusive or neglectful. There were 96 children who died in New York State in 2007 as a result of abuse or neglect.

Nationally mandated reporters accounted for more than one-half (57.7 percent) of all reports of alleged child abuse or neglect.

It is estimated that the lifelong costs of such abuse in the U.S. total $124 billion per year. Child abuse and neglect raises the risk for behavioral problems depression, anxiety, addiction and mental illness, as well as physical diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Additionally, five children die each day from abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment happens when a parent or someone responsible for the care of a child harms that child or places them in harm’s way. The sooner a maltreated child receives help, the better it is for that child and their family.

Information on the effects of childhood trauma from abuse and neglect throughout the lifespan taken from:

Felitti, V., and Anda, R., et al.(1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14 (4), 245-258.

The New York State Licensing Law for Social Work

Effective September 1, 2004, the New York State Education Law was changed to create two professional titles for Social Work (Article 154, Social Work). The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 154, Section 7704 of New York’s Education Law, and Part 74 and Section 52.30 of the Commissioner’s Regulations.

The New York Board of Regents approved new regulations to establish the profession and clarify provisions of the law, such as those related to education, experience and the examination required for licensure. As part of this change in law, every applicant for social work licensure in New York State must complete course work or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse in accordance with Section 6507(3a) of the education law.

Applicants must submit a certificate of completion from an approved provider before a New York State license can be issued. Adelphi University became an approved provider in 2004.

For more information or questions about this requirement, please contact the Professional Education Program Review Unit at the New York State Education Department at 518.874.3817, ext. 360, or refer to these websites:

To request copies of the relevant sections of the law, contact or 518.474.3817, ext. 320.

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