NEW YORK (AP) -- The number of U.S. children victimized by abuse and neglect has dropped for the sixth straight year, but child fatalities linked to maltreatment increased by nearly 4 percent, according to the latest federal data.
The annual report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services said the estimated number of victimized children in the 2012 fiscal year was 686,000. That's down from 688,000 in 2011 and from 723,000 in 2007.
According to the report, fatalities attributable to child abuse and neglect increased from 1,580 in 2011 to 1,640 in 2012.
An HHS statement said further research would be needed to determine whether this represented a real increase in child fatalities or reflected improvements in how states investigate and report fatalities to determine which can be attributed to maltreatment.