December 12, 2012, ABC News/Associated Press

Reports of child abuse and neglect have dropped nationwide for the fifth consecutive year, and abuse-related child fatalities also are at a five-year low. The latest annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released [on December 12], estimates that there were 681,000 cases of child abuse or neglect across the nation in the 2011 fiscal year. That’s down from 695,000 in 2010 and from 723,000 in 2007. The number of abuse-related fatalities was estimated at 1,570 — down from 1,580 in 2010 and from 1,720 in 2007. About four fifths of those killed were younger than 4, and parents were deemed responsible for nearly four fifths of the deaths. Regarding types of maltreatment, 78.5 percent of the victims suffered neglect, nearly 18 percent were physically abused and 9.1 percent were sexually abused. The report tallied 61,472 children who were sexually abused in 2011 — down dramatically from the peak of about 150,000 in 1992. The report, formally known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, is based on input from child protection agencies in every state. Sociologist David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, says he finds the annual reports frustrating because of the lack of analysis of the trends. “But at the same time, it does appear remarkable that overall child maltreatment has declined given that unemployment has been so high, the housing and mortgage crisis has continued, and state and local budgets for family and child services have been cut,” he wrote.

Note: For more details on this inspiring news, see a government article at this link. Just 50 years ago, child sexual abuse was virtually a taboo topic. There was nowhere to report such things. Now that there is a protective net and awareness has skyrocketed, far fewer children are being abused. This has powerful, positive implications as more children grow up healthy and knowing that they are protected. For many other great reasons for hope and optimism in these uncertain times, click here.