top of page

South Carolina Statistics of Maltreatment

Image by Nathan Dumlao

The Alarming Reality of Child Maltreatment in South Carolina

  Child maltreatment is a distressing issue that plagues societies across the world, affecting countless young lives. In South Carolina, the statistics reveal a disconcerting truth: a significantly higher proportion of children in the state are experiencing some form of maltreatment compared to the national average. This essay delves into the data from 2016, highlighting the concerning figures and emphasizing the profound impact of maltreatment on children, particularly those aged five and under. It also underscores the need for concerted efforts to address and rectify this deeply troubling issue.

The Disturbing Disparity:

  Data from 2016 paints a stark picture of child maltreatment in South Carolina. The numbers reveal that approximately 17,331 children, which is nearly 16 children for every thousand, have experienced maltreatment. This figure is in stark contrast to the national average, where 671,622 children, roughly 9 children for every thousand, have suffered maltreatment. The disparity is both significant and deeply concerning.

Maltreatment Among Young Children:

  One of the most concerning aspects of this issue is the disproportionate impact on young children, particularly those aged five and under. In South Carolina, an alarming 39% of children who experience maltreatment fall into this age group, a figure that closely mirrors the national average of 41%. These young children, in their most formative years, are exposed to the traumatic effects of maltreatment, which can have lasting repercussions on their development.

The Situation for Children Aged Ten and Under:

The statistics also reveal that approximately 74% of children aged ten and under in South Carolina are experiencing maltreatment, a figure that aligns with the national average. This is a significant portion of the state's young population, and it underscores the pervasive nature of this issue, affecting children from various backgrounds and circumstances.

  Child maltreatment in South Carolina is a grave concern, as evidenced by the stark contrast between the state's numbers and the national average. The fact that such a significant number of young children, especially those aged five and under, are exposed to maltreatment is a cause for deep concern. The trauma they endure can result in a range of negative consequences for their emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Addressing this issue is not only a moral imperative but also crucial for the well-being and future of South Carolina's children. It is a call to action for all levels of society, from government agencies to local communities, to unite in their efforts to prevent child maltreatment, support victims, and create an environment where children can thrive in safety and security. The alarming reality of child maltreatment in South Carolina cannot be ignored, and concerted efforts are essential to protect the state's most vulnerable citizens and provide them with the opportunity for a brighter future.

School Children

Nurturing the Future: The Impact of Foster Care on Children Aged 6 and Under

  Foster care plays a crucial role in safeguarding the welfare of vulnerable children who are separated from their biological families due to various reasons, ranging from abuse and neglect to parental incarceration. These children face unique challenges as they navigate a world that can be both unpredictable and unsettling. This essay sheds light on the particular plight of children aged six and under in foster care, with a focus on the state of South Carolina. It delves into the statistical insights and the implications of this phenomenon, emphasizing the need for tailored care and support for these young minds.

The Vulnerable Age Group:

  Children aged six and under represent an especially vulnerable age group within the foster care system. At this formative stage, they are in the critical early years of their development, where their emotional, social, and cognitive growth is taking shape. Unfortunately, they often enter foster care due to circumstances beyond their control, such as abuse, neglect, or family instability.

Statistics in South Carolina:

  In South Carolina, 1,531 children, or 39% of those served in foster care, fall into the age category of six and under. This is a significant percentage of the total foster care population in the state, emphasizing the magnitude of the issue. It's essential to note that this percentage is slightly lower than the national average of 41%, where 178,822 children across the country are also experiencing the challenges of foster care at this tender age.

Unique Challenges Faced:

Children aged six and under in foster care encounter a unique set of challenges that require specialized care and support. These challenges can be summarized as follows:

  • Trauma and Emotional Stress: Young children in foster care often grapple with the emotional trauma of separation from their biological families. They may experience anxiety, confusion, and a sense of loss, all of which can hinder their emotional development.

  • Developmental Milestones: This age group is at a critical stage of cognitive and emotional development. Any disruptions in their environment can affect their learning and behavior, potentially leading to delays in achieving developmental milestones.

  • Attachment Issues: Building and maintaining healthy attachments with caregivers is vital for young children. Moving from one foster placement to another can disrupt these crucial bonds, leading to attachment issues that may persist throughout their lives.

  • Education and Stability: Consistency is key in the lives of young children. Frequent placement changes can lead to educational disruptions and instability, hindering their progress in school and their overall well-being.

  • Advocacy and Support: These children may struggle to articulate their needs and concerns due to their age. As such, it's essential that their caregivers, social workers, and the broader community advocate for their rights and provide the support they require.

  The high proportion of children aged six and under in foster care, both in South Carolina and nationally, underscores the need for a more profound understanding of the unique challenges they face. These children, in their most formative years, require specialized care that addresses their developmental, emotional, and psychological needs. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that they receive the support and nurturing environments they deserve, helping them overcome adversity and emerge as resilient, empowered individuals. Foster care should not just be a temporary refuge but a launching pad for a brighter future for these young hearts.

Domestic Violence 

Unveiling the Shadows: Domestic Violence in South Carolina and Its Impact on Children

  South Carolina, the Palmetto State, boasts stunning landscapes and a rich history, but it has also earned a less-desirable reputation—it has consistently ranked among the top ten states for domestic violence for more than a decade. This distressing trend has far-reaching consequences, especially when it comes to the impact of domestic violence on children, contributing to their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). This essay examines the deep-rooted issue of domestic violence in South Carolina, focusing on its link to children's ACEs, their learning difficulties, and long-term health consequences. It emphasizes the imperative need for ongoing efforts to combat this problem and thereby improve outcomes for the state's most vulnerable residents.

The Pervasive Issue of Domestic Violence:

  Domestic violence is a persistent and grave issue in South Carolina, and the statistics are alarming. The state's consistent presence in the top ten domestic violence states speaks to the pressing nature of the problem. Domestic violence not only inflicts physical harm but also leaves deep emotional and psychological scars on victims, often in the sanctity of their homes. What makes this issue even more disconcerting is its ripple effect on children who are unwitting witnesses to the violence and its aftermath.

ACEs and Their Impact:

  Experiencing domestic violence in childhood is one of the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that can have a profound and lasting impact on a child's development. ACEs encompass various traumatic events that children may endure, with domestic violence being a significant contributor. The chronic stress, anxiety, and fear experienced in such situations take a toll on a child's well-being. The outcomes are far-reaching and include:


  • Learning Difficulties: Children exposed to domestic violence often struggle in school due to the emotional turmoil they experience at home. Their ability to concentrate and learn is severely compromised.

  • Attention and Memory Problems: Chronic stress can affect a child's cognitive functions, leading to attention deficits and memory issues. These challenges impede their overall cognitive development.

  • School Performance Challenges: Poor academic performance often plagues children who witness domestic violence. Their disrupted home lives make it hard for them to thrive in an educational environment.

  • Long-Term Health Conditions: The chronic stress experienced during childhood can contribute to a range of long-term health conditions, including mental health issues like depression and anxiety.


The dark cloud of domestic violence has lingered over South Carolina for far too long, and its impact on children is a pressing concern. The evidence is clear: ACEs, including witnessing domestic violence, can cast a long shadow over a child's life, affecting their learning, mental and physical health, and overall well-being. As a result, it is imperative that efforts to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence in the state continue to be a priority. These efforts not only provide immediate relief and protection for victims but also lay the foundation for a brighter future for South Carolina's children and their families. Domestic violence is a deep-rooted issue, but it is not insurmountable; with awareness, education, and comprehensive support, South Carolina can break free from this troubling cycle and usher in a new era of safety, well-being, and opportunity for all its residents.

bottom of page