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The number of reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the United States increased by 8 percent between 1991 and 1992 and 50 percent since 1985, according to a report by the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse.

According to the independent, nonprofit group's latest annual survey, more than 2.9 million cases of abuse were reported in 1992, about 213,000 more than in 1991. That works out to 45 reports of abuse for every 1,000 children in the country, the report says.

Moreover, the increase is not isolated to a few states, but reflects a nationwide trend, the report says.

Based on data from 46 states, the report's authors estimate that about 40 percent of all reports of abuse are substantiated following investigation. Thus, some 1.16 million children were substantiated as victims of abuse or neglect in 1992, 10 percent more than the previous year.

A total of 1,261 children were officially designated as fatal victims of maltreatment in 1992, a slight increase over 1991, the report says.

Nevertheless, fewer than two-thirds of children indentified as victims of abuse or neglect received child-protection services that year, the survey found.

Nearly every state cited substance abuse as a major contributing factor in child-abuse cases, the report says, yet fewer than half the states routinely collect information on substance abuse during investigations.

More information on the report is available from the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, 332 South Michigan Ave., Suite 1600, Chicago, Ill. 60604-4357; (312) 663-3520.

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