NEW YORK -- Nationwide, 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, according to new federal statistics.
West Virginia had 16 abuse-related child fatalities in 2011, according to the report. That's a rate of 4.16 deaths per 100,000 children, the third-highest rate in the nation. Only Louisiana and Oklahoma had higher child-death rates.
The latest annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released Wednesday, 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.
"We have made excellent progress over the past five years," said George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "But what this report tells me is that we still have 681,000 children out there who need our help."
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.
Texas had the most fatalities, with 246, followed by Florida with 133, while Montana reported no abuse-related deaths.
Regarding the overall maltreatment figures, white children accounted for almost 44 percent of the victims, black children for 21.5 percent and Hispanic children for 22.1 percent. About 11 percent of the victims were physically or mentally disabled.