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12 Pct of American Kids Suffer Abuse

Update Date: Jun 02, 2014 08:57 PM EDT

One in eight American children have suffered abuse before reaching adulthood, a new study reveals.

Researchers from Yale University found that 12 percent of American kids have experienced a confirmed case of maltreatment in the form of neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

The findings revealed that minority children experience even higher rates of maltreatment, with one in five black children and one in seven Native American children experiencing maltreatment during the study period.

The latest study used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File, which includes information on all U.S. children with a confirmed report of maltreatment.

The findings revealed that over 5.6 million children experienced maltreatment between 2004 and 2011.

"Confirmed child maltreatment is dramatically underestimated in this country. Our findings show that it is far more prevalent than the 1 in 100 that is currently reported," first author Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of sociology and faculty fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University said in a news release.

"Maltreatment is on the scale of other major public health concerns that affect child health and well-being," he concluded. "Because child maltreatment is also a risk factor for poor mental and physical health outcomes throughout life, the results of this study provide valuable epidemiologic information."

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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