Protect Our Kids Act of 2012: Preventing Child Deaths Due to Maltreatment

The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-275) was passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2013. This legislation authorizes a commission that will develop recommendations for a comprehensive national strategy to reduce fatalities caused by child maltreatment.

Child Maltreatment Deaths: A National Concern

Each year in the U.S., many children die as a result of neglect and abuse. 

  • Using data reported by States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012) estimated that 1,570 children died from maltreatment during fiscal year (FY) 2011. 

  • This number represents, on average, four children dying every day from maltreatment. 

Young children are at highest risk of dying from maltreatment. According to FY 2011 NCANDS data: 

  • Among children who died from maltreatment, 42 percent were under 1 year old; 86 percent were under 5 years old (HHS, 2012). 

  • For every 100,000 children under 1 year old living in the U.S., 17 were killed by maltreatment (HHS, 2012).

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (2011) has estimated that the true number of child deaths from maltreatment is significantly greater than the number of cases counted by NCANDS.

The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012

The Protect our Kids Act of 2012 establishes a Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, and authorizes $2 million in funding for two years (FY 2013 and FY 2014) for the commission. This commission will: 

  • Be composed of 12 members appointed by the president and congressional leaders.

  • Include members with experience in fields such as psychology, child development, child welfare research and administration, trauma and crisis intervention, substance abuse treatment, social work, medicine, law, education, epidemiology and computer science.

  • Review research evidence, policies and best practices on preventing child maltreatment fatalities.

  • Report its findings and recommendations for legislation and administrative action to Congress and the president.

The American Psychological Association lauds passage of the Protect Our Kids Act as an important step toward protecting children from maltreatment.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2012). Child Maltreatment 2011.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2011). Strengthening National Data on Child Fatalities Could Aid in Prevention (GAO Publication No. 11-599).