CHILD ABUSE STATISTICS

In 2010, approximately 695,000 children were victims of maltreatment.

Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 20.6 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.

More than one-half of the child victims were girls (51.2%) and 48.5 percent were boys; and nearly one-half of all victims were White (44.8%), 21.9 percent were African-American, and 21.4 percent were Hispanic.

The Lisa Steinberg Case

Years ago one such fatality was 6 year old Lisa (Launders) Steinberg.

Lisa was the adopted daughter of Joel Steinberg (age 46) and Hedda Nessbaum (age 45), a well-educated, upper-class couple. By most accounts, Joel was a millionaire. He was a criminal defense attorney and she was an Associate Editor of children's books. They lived in a Greenwich Village apartment in New York City -- the same building in which Mark Twain once lived. In addition to Lisa, Joel and his common-law wife, Hedda, had adopted a boy, Mitchell. They seemed like the picture perfect family. That is, until they were arrested for child abuse.

In 1987, Hedda called the police to report that her daughter had choked on food. In order to explain the multiple bruises on Lisa's body, Hedda claimed that she had fallen a lot lately on her roller skates. When the police arrived, six-year-old Lisa Steinberg was unconscious. She died four days later in a hospital. It was determined that the cause of her death was a head injury apparently inflicted by a rubber headed hammer. The police also found Lisa's 16-month-old brother, Mitchell, chained up and lying in his own feces. Mitchell was alive but confined to sleeping on a mat. The house was filthy and contained large quantities of cocaine and other drugs as well as $25,000 in cash. The sink was ripped from the wall and there were blood stains everywhere.

What really happened on that fatal day in November, 1987, no one will ever know for sure. Hedda has given the following account:

Lisa wanted to go to dinner with her father, but he did not want to take her. He then inflicted the head injury. Before he left the apartment Lisa was unconscious. During his absence, Hedda did not call for help. She waited alone in the apartment for hours for Joel's return, believing he would be able to "wake up" Lisa. When he did return, he and Hedda smoked cocaine (freebasing) to "relate better." Eventually, Hedda called 911.

 

The couple was arrested on child abuse charges. New York law states that if one parent beats a child and the other stays silent about it, each is equally guilty. However, Hedda was later found to have been abused by Joel Steinberg throughout their relationship. She suffered from nine broken ribs, a broken jaw, and a broken nose. Hedda was not prosecuted due to the belief that years of abuse rendered her incompetent at the time of the murder. Instead, she was sent to a psychiatric hospital. Joel was charged with first degree manslaughter. On two occasions, Steinberg was denied discretionary parole, mainly because he never expressed remorse for the killing. However, on June 30, 2004, he was paroled under the state's "good time" law, which mandates release of inmates who exhibit good behavior while incarcerated after having served as little as two-thirds of the maximum possible sentence. Steinberg spent most of his prison sentence at New York State's "Supermax" prison, the Southport Correctional Facility, presumably to prevent him from being attacked by other inmates. After his release, Steinberg moved to Harlem, where he took up work in the construction industry. He continues to maintain his innocence.

At school, Lisa's teachers described her as a bright and friendly child. They worried about Lisa arriving at school with bruises and chunks of hair missing from her head. Lisa would tell them that her brother hit her. Lisa would also apparently walk herself to school most days, crossing busy Manhattan streets of four lanes of traffic alone. No reports of abuse were ever made by the teachers.
In exchange for her testimony against Steinberg, Hedda Nussbaum was not prosecuted for events related to Lisa's death. Unable to convict Steinberg on the more serious charge of second-degree murder, the jury convicted him of the second most serious charge, first-degree manslaughter. The judge then sentenced him to the maximum penalty then available for that charge — 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

The grave of Lisa Launders in Gate of Heaven Cemetery

On two occasions, Steinberg was denied discretionary parole, mainly because he never expressed remorse for the killing. However, on June 30, 2004, he was paroled under the state's "good time" law, which mandates release of inmates who exhibit good behavior while incarcerated after having served as little as two-thirds of the maximum possible sentence. Steinberg spent most of his prison sentence at New York State's "Supermax" prison, the Southport Correctional Facility, presumably to prevent him from being attacked by other inmates. After his release, Steinberg moved to Harlem, where he took up work in the construction industry. He continues to maintain his innocence.

(photo from Find a Grave, contributed by Mark Smith)

Perpetrators Relationship to Victims

Contrary to popular belief, most perpetrators of abuse and neglect are parents. In fact, in 2010, 81.9% of victims were abused by a parent or a parent acting with another person. Another 6.1 percent were other relatives of the victim.

Non- parental perpetrators account for approximately 16.0% of all perpetrators. These are caregivers who are not parents, (but may be foster parents) child care or day care staff, unmarried partners or parents, legal guardians and staff of residential facilities.

victims by perpetrator

 

 

Rates of Child Abuse

Neglect is the most commonly reported type of maltreatment, followed by physical abuse, then sexual abuse and other types.

victims by maltreatment

Note: The percentages total more than 100% because children may have been victims of more than one type of maltreatment. The "Other" category of maltreatment may include such actions as abandonment, congenital drug addiction, and threats of harm to the child.

Gender of Victims

There are slightly more female victims of abuse than male. In the year 2010, approximately 51.2% of victims were female and 48.5% were male.

firgetened child bw

Rate and Ethnicity of Victims

African-American children, American Indian or Alaska Native children, and children of multiple races had the highest rates of victimization, followed by White children and Hispanic children. Asian children had the lowest rate of victimization.

Information from "Child Maltreatment 2009"

 

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