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Child and Elder Abuse: Statistics and Awareness


Children and the elderly belong to the vulnerable population that is statistically more frequently abused by their caregivers. A maltreated child is at high risk of developing externalizing and internalizing psychopathologies (Zeanah & Humphreys, 2018). Similarly, elder abuse leads to adverse physical and psychological consequences (Weissberger et al., 2020). Maltreatment can happen in many different forms, such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse (Zeanah & Humphreys, 2018). Child protection services have to remove approximately 275,000 children from their families each year and take them to foster care (Zeanah & Humphreys, 2018). Moreover, more than $5 billion of health expenditures are attributed to treating elder abuse outcomes. However, according to Weissberger et al. (2020), unlike in child abuse, older people report being primarily financially abused by their family members. Before the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic, every tenth older adult was physically or mentally harmed in the United States (Chang & Levy, 2021). Analogously, parental job loss due to the pandemic resulted in an increase in child maltreatment cases (Lawson et al., 2020). Child and elder abuse are significant problems prevalent across all states, and that negatively impact both groups.

Child Abuse Case

Child maltreatment cases are reported daily on the news online and on television. One such case was the lawsuit against three adult residents of Louisiana for physical abuse of a seven-year-old girl (Bonvillian, 2020). The child was beaten and choked repeatedly by two men, and these incidents were witnessed by her biological mother, who did not intervene (Bonvillian, 2020). According to the local police, the girl was harmed physically and emotionally; therefore, she received treatment for her injuries at the time of investigation (Bonvillian, 2020). Sadly, the child will likely develop huge psychological issues as a result of this traumatic experience. For example, according to Lawson et al. (2020), abused children are at greater risk of becoming anxious, aggressive, or hyperactive, with conduct problems and other psychological issues later in life. Furthermore, more than half of these children may have cognitive and language disturbance (Zeanah & Humphreys, 2018). Therefore, early intervention is vital to minimize the detrimental effect of abuse on victims (Zeanah & Humphreys, 2018). The Louisiana case is one of many examples of how severe child maltreatment can be, leading to physical and emotional trauma.

Elder Abuse Case

The sequelae of elder abuse can be severe, damaging various aspects of older people’s lives. One of the elder abuse cases was reported recently in Las Vegas. According to the police officers, they received a video that showed physical abuse of two elderly persons by their caretakers (Desilva, 2021). The suspects were immediately arrested, while the victims were provided with appropriate care (Desilva, 2021). The current state of the abused elderly is unknown, but the aftermath of the incident is likely unpleasant. According to Weissberger et al., “elder abuse results in physical, psychological, and social consequences to victims, their families, and society (2020, p. 2). Fortunately, the National Center for Elder Abuse provides resources to support the victims of maltreatment (Weissberger et al., 2020). Still, the prevalence of elder abuse is not dropping, placing the well-being of thousands of old adults at risk. Therefore, a collaboration between social and medical workers is essential to detect elder abuse cases and diminish the negative influence on the mental and physical health of the victims (Chang & Levy, 2021). Conversely, the number of psychological issues among the older population will continue to rise.

Statistical Data

The statistics of elder abuse appear to remain stably high across the United States. For example, one in ten elderly experiences some form of abuse each year (National Center on Elder Abuse [NCEO], n.d.). Specifically, 12% of cases were reported as emotional abuse, 2% were physical abuse, 4% were financial, and 2% were sexual abuse (NCEO, n.d.). In Indiana, approximately 125,000 such cases are registered, which is lower than in California, 632,000, but much higher than in Wyoming (The Peck Law Group, n.d.). Furthermore, Chang and Levy (2021) reported an 83.6% increase in the number of elderly abuse cases after the beginning of the pandemic, especially among those who did not strictly adhere to social distancing rules. This statistical data shows the extent of the elder abuse issue in the U.S., indicating the importance of social services to protect and support the victims.

Child maltreatment has a high prevalence in many American states. For example, the highest number of child abuse cases were reported in New York and California, 67,000 and 64,000 victims, respectively (“Number of unique victims of child abuse in the United States in 2019,” 2021). In Indiana, 23,000 unique cases of children abuse were identified in 2019 (“Number of unique victims of child abuse in the United States in 2019,” 2021). However, the high number of these incidents is frightening not because of the costs of greater than $500 billion, but because 30% of abused minors will show similar behavior towards their future offspring (American SPCC, n.d.). Moreover, 80% of children abused or neglected early in life will likely develop at least one severe psychological issue by the age of 21 (American SPCC, n.d.). This information should alarm the American society to take action in stopping this negative pattern across generations.

Data about child and elder abuse statistics were derived from reliable websites. American SPCC is a non-profit organization aiming to stop any form of child abuse (American SPCC, n.d.). Statista is a Germany-based company that provides reliable statistical information (“Trustworthy data from reliable resources,” n.d.). Indeed, more than 2000 universities rely on this website (“Trustworthy data from reliable resources,” n.d.). Elder abuse statistics were retrieved from the National Center of Elder Abuse and the Peck Law Group, the former being a non-profit institution and the latter is a law firm. Since all of these websites are run by respected organizations that use reliable sources, the statistical data on child and elder abuse can be considered credible.


To sum up, elder and child abuse is a critical issue in the United States. The prevalence of these cases varies across states but remains high overall. The consequences of child abuse include emotional, cognitive, and language problems later in life. Furthermore, these children are at greater risk of becoming anxious, aggressive, or depressed in the future if a therapist did not provide proper help on time. Elder abuse also results in various adverse social, economic, and psychological outcomes. Monitoring the statistical data is essential to demonstrate the severity of this problem. Moreover, the public should know that failure to minimize abuse in society will maintain the negative pattern of child and elderly maltreatment across generations.


American SPCC. (n.d.). National child maltreatment statistics

Bonvillian, C. (2020). 3 charged in “one of the worst” child abuse cases ever in Louisiana parish. Fox23 News.

Chang, E. S., & Levy, B. R. (2021). High prevalence of elder abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic: risk and resilience factors. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1-8.

Desilva, K. (2021). 3 women arrested in Las Vegas elder abuse case. Fox23 News. Web.

Lawson, M., Piel, M. H., & Simon, M. (2020). Child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic: Consequences of parental job loss on psychological and physical abuse towards children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 110, 1-11.

National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.). Research, statistics, and data.

Number of unique victims of child abuse in the United States in 2019, by state. (2021). Statista.

The Peck Law Group. (n.d.). Elder abuse data and statistics.

Trustworthy data from reliable resources. (n.d.). Statista.

Weissberger, G. H., Goodman, M. C., Mosqueda, L., Schoen, J., Nguyen, A. L., Wilber, K. H., Gassoumis, Z. D., Nguyen, C. P., & Han, S. D. (2020). Elder abuse characteristics based on calls to the National Center on elder abuse resource line. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 39(10), 1078-1087.

Zeanah, C. H., & Humphreys, K. L. (2018). Child abuse and neglect. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(9), 637-644.

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StudyKraken. "Child and Elder Abuse: Statistics and Awareness." January 8, 2023.


StudyKraken. 2023. "Child and Elder Abuse: Statistics and Awareness." January 8, 2023.


StudyKraken. (2023) 'Child and Elder Abuse: Statistics and Awareness'. 8 January.

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