An epidemiological study of abused children and their families in the United Kingdom between 1977 and 1982

Child Abuse Negl. 1985;9(4):441-8. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(85)90052-3.


Between 1977 and 1982 there were 6,532 children placed on the child abuse registers maintained by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in England. This paper examines the data on these children. The rate of physical injury increased over the last four years of the study from .43 to .63 per thousand children under 15 in the NSPCC register areas, but the percentage of fatal and serious injuries decreased over the entire period. There was also a decline in the rate of re-injury. Infants, boys and low birthweights were overrepresented among the physically abused, neglected and nonorganic failure to thrive cases. Girls and 10-14 year olds were overrepresented among the sexually abused children. The parents or caretakers of the abused children were characterized by their early parenthood, marital instability, large families, criminality and mobility. An initial unemployment rate of 35% among the male caretakers increased to 58% over the last three years of the study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Failure to Thrive / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Parents / psychology
  • Registries
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Offenses
  • United Kingdom
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology