Child abuse and neglect is not caused by a single factor but by multiple factors related to the individual, family, community, and society at large. Environments that are violent, lack accessible and effective community resources, and are disproportionately affected by poverty or unemployment are variables that contribute to child abuse and neglect. PCA Georgia developed a child abuse and neglect prevention model that displays prevention strategies at the individual, community, and societal level.
Child abuse and neglect is not caused by a single factor…
but by multiple factors related to the individual, family, community, and society at large. Environments that are violent, lack accessible and effective community resources, and are disproportionately affected by poverty or unemployment are variables that contribute to child abuse and neglect.
Georgia ranked 38th in the nation for child well-being in 2021.
Types of Child Maltreatment
In 2020, reports of maltreatment were received for over 121,000 children in Georgia, of which 8,690 children had substantiated cases for maltreatment and about 45,407 cases received an alternative response, which usually involves some type of family supportive services.
When people hear the words child abuse, they initially think of physical abuse, however, neglect accounts for the majority (65%) of cases. It is also harder to prevent due to the complex social, cultural, and economical ties it has.
Cost of Child Maltreatment
*A Quality-Adjusted Life Year includes intangible costs due to pain, suffering, and grief resulting from child abuse & neglect among victims and communities.
QALYS should be reported separately, and are not included in the Total Direct Costs.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2022). Child Maltreatment 2020. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/report/child-maltreatment-2020
2. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2020). Kids Count Databook 2020. Baltimore, MD. https://www.aecf.org/resources/2020-kids-count-data-book/
3. Peterson, C., Florence, C. & Klevens, J. (2018). The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States, 2016. Child Abuse & Neglect, 86. 178-183.
4. Hussey, J., Marshall, J., English, D., Knight, E., Lau, A. Dubowitz, H. et al. (2005). Defining maltreatment according to substantiation. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29(5), 479-492.
5. The Georgia Department of Public Health. (2018). Georgia Data Summary: Adverse Childhood Experiences. Retrieved from: https://abuse.publichealth.gsu.edu/essentials/#1596743725141-2229db6d-3f73
Relationships are the Foundation of Healthy Brain Development at Any Age
Science shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health. Positive childhood experiences (PCE) can buffer and prevent bad experiences such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Whenever we talk about ACEs, it is equally important to discuss relational wealth – being connected in a healthy way to a social network. Research reinforces that positive interactions and experiences for children and families foster healthy development. This can extend to the larger community, thus emphasizing that one caring adult can make all the difference.
In studies looking at people with an exposure to ACEs, those with more PCEs showed better lifelong mental and relational health than those with fewer PCEs. In a study by Bethell et al., individuals with ACEs had lower chances of adulthood depression or poor mental health if they had also experienced PCEs. In fact, the more PCEs people reported having, the lower their chance was of having poor mental health.
In comparison to people who reported 2 or less positive childhood experiences:
- People who reported having 3 to 5 PCEs had 50% lower odds of poor adult mental health
- People who reported having 6 to 7 PCEs had 72% lower odds of poor adult mental health
Bethell C, Jones J, Gombojav N, Linkenbach J, Sege R. Positive Childhood Experiences and Adult Mental and Relational
Health in a Statewide Sample: Associations Across Adverse Childhood Experiences Levels. JAMA Pediatr. 2019:e193007. Study Overview
Positive Childhood Experiences questions asked how often the respondent:
- Felt able to talk to their family about feelings
- Felt their family stood by them during difficult times
- Enjoyed participating in community traditions
- Felt a sense of belonging in high school
- Felt supported by friends
- Had at least two non-parent adults who took genuine interest in them
- Felt safe and protected by an adult in their home
Children are shaped by their earliest experiences and relationships. Creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are needed to support early brain development and promote lifelong learning and success. Conversely, negative early experiences, called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), cause high levels of stress, called toxic stress. Frequent and prolonged levels of toxic stress can dramatically change how the brain develops.
This report summarizes data collected in 2016 and 2018 through Georgia’s ACEs module (11 questions) as a part of the Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (GA-BRFSS).
ACEs by Demographic Characteristics
-Females had a slightly higher prevalence of four or more (4+) ACEs compared to males
-Having 4+ ACEs did not significantly differ by race or ethnicity
-College graduates had a significantly lower prevalence of 4+ ACEs than adults with other educational levels.
3 in 5 Georgians Reported
at Least One ACE
Number of ACEs in Georgia’s Adult Population (%)
- 0 ACEs
- 1 ACE
- 2 ACEs
- 3 ACEs
- 4+ ACEs
Health Behavior and Outcomes for GA Adults Reporting 4+ ACEs Compared to 0 ACEs*
Adults with 4+ ACEs were more likely to:
-Have poor mental health for 14 days or more in the previous month
-Have been diagnosed with depression
-Have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions due to a physical, emotional, or mental condition
National data shows adults with 4+ ACEs compared to zero are:
-6 times* more likely to have clinical depression
-3.6 times* more likely to have serious jobproblems
-2.2 times* more likely to have a heart attack
*All displayed results are significant
**Heavy Drinking- Male respondents who reported having more than 14 drinks per week, or female respondents who reported having more than 7 drinks per week.
***HIV Risk- Adults who reported that in the past year they had:1) Injected any non-prescribed drug, 2) Treated for a sexually transmitted disease, or 3) Given or received money or drugs in exchange for sex
Suggested Citation. Davis, V.N., Bayakly, A.R., Chosewood, D., Drenzek, C. 2018 Data Summary: Adverse Childhood Experiences. Georgia Department of Public Health,
Epidemiology Section, Chronic Disease, Healthy Behaviors, and Injury Epidemiology Unit
Georgia’s human trafficking reporting and services can be accessed through a new hotline – 1-866-END-HTGA (or 1-866-363-4842), managed by the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia (CACGA). CACGA is now the statewide provider for human trafficking intervention services and support.
What Makes Georgia a Hotspot for Human Trafficking?
There’s a large entertainment industry in Atlanta, particularly with music and movies, which enables traffickers to lure people with false promises. Additionally, Atlanta is surrounded by major highways, an international airport, and various means of transportation which traffickers can use as a tool for trafficking.
Resources for Human Trafficking Prevention
- 10 Minute Human Trafficking Overview
- Human Trafficking Hotline- 1-866-END-HTGA (1-866-363-4842)
- Georgia’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Technical Assistance Resource Guide (TARG). This resource guide provides basic support for schools and youth service organizations to implement age appropriate, evidence-based education prevention curriculum for children.
- Community awareness training and resources are available through the International Human Trafficking Institute and Georgia Cares.
- Georgia Labor Trafficking 2020 Report
- A Research-Based Question and Answer Resource on Sex Trafficking for Youth-Supporting Professionals
We recommend taking a strengthens-based approach to data, evaluation, and narrative using the guides below.
- A Guide to Anti-Racist Data Collection for: System Leaders and Data Administrators
- APA Style Guides for Bias-Free Language
- How to Best Message on Data (Poverty Example)
Noteworthy National, State, and Local Data Sources
Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences: Data to Action
The PACE: D2A team is committed to measuring and tracking data that supports the prevention of ACEs in Georgia. With their partners at the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Injury Prevention Program, they’ve created a single location to access multiple ACE and ACE-related data sources. View Georgia data mapped.
With the help of Georgia Family Connection Partnerships, KIDS COUNT data center provides easily accessible data to examine promotive and risk factors related to child and family well-being at a county level. https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#GA
Georgia Child Welfare Dashboard
The Georgia Division on Family and Children and Family Services Data Dashboard allows users to view state or county data in regards to children involved in Georgia’s Child Welfare System. (Additional Metro Atlanta Specific Data Here)
Get Georgia Reading Data Tools
These tools developed for the Get Georgia Reading Campaign can help state and local leaders understand and address the challenges our children are facing on the path to literacy.
Georgia’s Cross Agency Child Data System (GA CACDS)
Data and reports regarding early care and learning of Georgia’s children birth to five years old.
Georgia School Discipline
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement provides publicly available school discipline data that can be filtered and used in various ways.
The Georgia Department of Public Health makes data publicly available through their Online Analytical Statistical Information System (OASIS). Data includes maternal and child health another with other health survey data such as ACEs collected.
Children’s Healthcare Report Card
George Town University provides data by state on children’s healthcare coverage and health status.
State-level data for understanding child welfare which includes easy-to-use interactive features, that provides state and national data on child maltreatment, foster care, kinship caregiving, and adoption.
National Association of Counties
Explore county-level data that can be used to improve supports and services for infants, toddlers, and families. Communities can examine data collected from home visitation, early intervention, and family support services to inform future policy changes.
United Way of Metro Atlanta’s Child Well-being Index
In Greater Atlanta nearly half a million children live in communities with low or very low child well-being which prompted United Way and dozens of community partners to develop the Child Well- Being (CWB) Index. The index is comprised of data from 14 child, family and community metrics to assess the strengths and needs.
State of Babies Yearbook
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 compares national and state-by-state data on the well-being of infants and toddlers.
SCAN Policy Database
The state profiles are summary tables of definitions and policies related to the incidence of child abuse and neglect and related risk for each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These profiles summarize the data available for each state and are consistent with the information in the data files.
The National Children’s Health Survey
This national database, which can be broken down by state, covers multiple aspects of a child’s well-being (social-emotional, physical, and cognitive), in the places where they live, play, and learn, and measures both developmental strengths and challenges. Includes Georgia Adverse Childhood Experiences data.