I. The Current Child Protection System
II. Necessity for a National Child Abuse Database with Uniform Definitions
No national entity collects accurate, real-time child abuse data. The FBI’s Uniform crime report program keeps comprehensive statistics and the data regarding incidents of violent crime. Yet the report the FBI issues no longer distinguishes by ages. The BJA also publishes the National Crime Victimization report, but only estimates rapes for persons 12 years or older. However, the BJA did publish the National Crime Victimization survey monograph titled Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. It was published in 2000, and has yet to be updated.
The Department of Health and Human Service’s Children’s Bureau also keeps statistics regarding instances of maltreatment through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). However, states only submit data through excel sheets on a voluntary basis.. Categories and definitions of child abuse are different across state jurisdictions. An instance of maltreatment may be recorded as child abuse in one jurisdiction, but not in another due to differences in definitions. Thus, the U.S. does not have accurate accounting of the number of child maltreatment cases in a year – only estimates. The U.S. needs a real time 21st century child data collection system to address child maltreatment.