An estimated 12 percent of all children in the United States suffer some sort of confirmed neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by the time they reach age 18, according to new research from Yale University.

Even more troubling, 1 out of every 5 black children and 1 in 7 Native American youth face maltreatment during the same period of time in their lives, according to a paper published in the June 2 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

A university research group arrived at the cumulative estimate of mistreated American children by examining the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File, which includes data on every child in the country with a confirmed report of maltreatment.

Case reports accumulated between 2004 and 2011 showed over 5.6 million children had experienced maltreatment during that specific seven-year span.

"Confirmed child maltreatment is dramatically underestimated in this country. Our findings show that it is far more prevalent than the 1 in 100 that is currently reported," Christopher Wildeman, an associate professor of sociology at Yale, a faculty fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the study's lead author, said in a news release.

Wildeman and his colleagues at other institutions, as well as and in the Yale Departments of Pediatrics and Sociology, concluded from a cumulative analysis of substantiated reports that child maltreatment is a common behavior within U.S. Communities, to the point of being "on the scale of other major public health concerns that affect child health and well-being," he said.

"Because child maltreatment is also a risk factor for poor mental and physical health outcomes throughout life, the results of this study provide valuable epidemiologic information," Wildeman said.

According to a fact sheet posted at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Website, the consequences of child maltreatment "may be mild or severe; disappear after a short period or last a lifetime," but will "affect the child physically, psychologically, behaviorally, or in some combination of all three ways ... abuse and neglect impact not just the child and family, but society as a whole. "

Therefore, the HHS posting continues, "it is imperative for communities to provide a framework of prevention strategies and services before abuse and neglect occur and to be prepared to offer remediation and treatment when necessary."