Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » State Laws and Statutes

Child Abuse laws - Information on the law about Child Abuse

report health neglect care

If child abuse is not the most serious crime facing our society today, it is certainly one of the most heart-wrenching. There are many attempts under way to remedy the underlying causes of child abuse, but, until it is eliminated states have unanimously responded with laws specifically designed to identify and punish child abusers.

Child abuse is an insidious type of crime where the victims are, for many reasons unable to, or are fearful of confronting or reporting the perpetrator to authorities. Therefore, the laws surrounding abusive activity contain an element not found in many other criminal statutes. Under the laws of many states, third parties with knowledge of, and reasonable cause to believe that abuse has occurred, are under a legal obligation to report the situation to the authorities.

The reporting provision is the most controversial and the most problematic of this area of the law. In our society, many relationships are held in particularly high regard and communications in those relationships are given special protection. For example, the law seeks to encourage communication between patient and doctor, client and attorney, and congregant and clergy, and protects the content of any communication between them from discovery by third parties by providing a "privilege," or a rule, that prohibits the doctor, lawyer or clergy from revealing the content of any communications that take place within that particular professional relationship. There are also certain occasions, not covered by the privilege where parties may presume their relationship to be confidential, such as between parent and teacher. Under the child abuse laws for some of these relationships, the professional in such relationships must now report any known or suspected abusive behavior to the proper authorities.

Virtually every state requires doctors, teachers, day care providers and law enforcement officers to report child abuse, but there is less uniformity among the states with regard to lawyers, clergy, therapists, or counselors. A few states require commercial photographic film processors to report to the proper authorities evidence of abusive activity. Some states are very specific in stating exactly who may be protected by the privilege, but some are noticeably vague. This is because the privilege itself is considered so important that a general abrogation of the privilege may be generally detrimental to the important relationships involved. For example, some states require health care professionals to report incidences of abuse, while others list as many as 20-25 professions, including dentists, chiropractors, nurses, hospital personnel and Christian Science practitioners.

The loss or abuse of privilege is not the only controversial or problematic provision of these laws. In many states, the definitions of what constitutes abuse is so broad as to cover a number of different circumstances, including some that may not be abusive at all. Coupled with the fact that in many states one need only have a reasonable suspicion that abuse has occurred in order to report it to the authorities, the laws have left many people fearful that innocent behavior may be misinterpreted by well-meaning, or worse, ill-meaning, private citizens.

The agency to whom suspected abuse is reported is often a state child protection office that is not hindered by the same constitutional restrictions to which traditional law enforcement agencies are subject. These agencies are sometimes allowed to take custody of children prior to actually proving that abuse has occurred. This is done in order to protect the child in question from potential abuse when the agent believes that there is a strong likelihood that the child will be, or continue to be harmed. Some critics of these laws fear the potential of extreme invasions into relationships between parent and child on the basis of very little evidence. Indeed, there have been cases where significant charges of child abuse have been made against individuals and severe action taken against them, such as children taken away from parents, day care centers closed down, only to have the charges later dismissed as lacking any concrete evidence whatsoever. For these reasons most states have passed laws that impose penalties not only for failure to report suspected abuse, but also for false reporting.

In the last few years state laws have changed in two significant ways. Several more states have added enticing or forcing children into sexually exploitive activity to the definition of child abuse. This represents a new definition of abusive activity distinct from sexual abuse. Obviously this new definition results from increased attention being given to child pornography.

Another change is the addition of pre-natal child abuse to the state statutes of South Dakota, Wisconsin and, arguably, Texas. These provisions raise some difficult questions (to the modern mind at least) about the definition of a "child" in the eyes of the law. It is very likely that these laws may find their way into the courts for further definition.

For professional advice, consult a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Table 25: Child Abuse

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
ALABAMA 26-14-1, et seq. Harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare through nonaccidental physical or mental injury or sexual abuse/exploitation All hospitals, clinics, sanitariums, doctors, medical examiners, dentists, chiropractors, nurses, school teachers and officials, pharmacists, law enforcement officers, social workers, day care workers, mental health professionals, members of the clergy unless privileged communication, or anyone else called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child When a child is known or suspected to be victim of abuse or neglect Department of Human Resources Knowingly fail to report: misdemeanor with up to 6 months jail or $500
ALASKA 47.17.010, et seq. Physical injury or neglect, mental injury (injury to emotional well-being or intellectual or psychological capacity of child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment on child's ability to function); sexual abuse/exploitation, maltreatment Practitioners of healing arts; school teachers; social workers; peace officers; child care providers; administrative officers of institutions; paid employees of counseling or crisis intervention programs; child fatality review teams Have reasonable cause to suspect that child has suffered harm as a result of abuse or neglect Department of Health and Social Services Class B misdemeanor
ARIZONA 13-3620, 8-201 Infliction or allowing of physical injury, impairment of bodily function or disfigurement, serious emotional damage diagnosed by a doctor or psychologist, and as evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior caused by acts or omissions of individual having care and custody of child Physician, resident, dentist, chiropractor, medical examiner, nurse, psychologist, social worker, school personnel, peace officer, parent, counselor, clergyman/priest Observation or examination of child discloses reasonable grounds to believe minor is a victim of injury or abuse To peace officer or child protective services of the department of economic security Class 1 misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
ARKANSAS 12-12-501, et seq. Specific incidents listed in 12-12-503 include abandonment, extreme and repeated cruelty; intentional, negligent, nonjustifiable conduct constituting physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; conduct creating threat of death or permanent impairment; intentionally and without justification disciplining a child by striking on the face or with a closed fist or shaking a child Any person; physician, dentist, nurse medical personnel, teacher, school counselor, social or family worker, day care center worker, foster care worker, mental health professional, peace officer, law enforcement official, prosecuting attorney or judge, domestic abuse advocate, clergyman Reasonable cause to suspect maltreatment or observance of conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in maltreatment Department of Human Services Class C misdemeanor; willful failure to report: civilly liable for all damages proximately caused by that failure. Class A misdemeanor: False notification
CALIFORNIA Penal Code §11164, et seq. Sexual abuse or exploitation as listed by incident in 11165.1; neglect; willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment; any physical injury inflicted other than by accidental means Health practitioner, child visitation monitors, fire fighter, animal control officer, humane society officer, district attorney, school employees, film processors, clergy, social workers, day care workers, police department employees, administrators or employees of public or private youth organizations or day camps Knows or reasonably suspects or observes child abuse To a child protective agency (police or sheriff's department, county probation department, or country welfare department) Misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
COLORADO 19-3-301, et seq., 19-1-103 Act or omission where child subject to sexual assault, molestation, exploitation, emotional abuse or prostitution; where child is in need of food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision because parent or guardian fails to do so; where child exhibits evidence of skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, burns, fractures, etc.; or circumstances indicate a condition that may not be the product of an accidental occurrence Physicians, child health associate, dentist, chiropractor, nurse, hospital personnel, school employee, social worker, mental health professional, veterinarian, peace officer, pharmacist, psychologist, fireman, victim's advocate, commercial film and photographic print processor, clergyman Reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child is subject to circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect Country or district department of social services or local law enforcement agency Willful violation: Class 3 misdemeanor plus liability for proximately caused damages
CONNECTICUT §17a-100, et seq., §46b-120 Injuries which are at variance with the history given of them or other than by accidental means; malnutrition, sexual abuse, exploitation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment, cruel punishment Physician, nurse, medical examiner, dentist, psychologist, school teacher, coach, guidance counselor or principal, social worker, police officer, mental health professional, health professional, certified substance abuse counselor, day care center worker, therapist, clergy Reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child is being abused or in danger of being abused Commissioner of Children and Families or designee False report up to $2000 and/or jail up to 1 year; Fined $500–$2500 and required to participate in educational training program
DELAWARE 16§901, et seq. Physical injury through unjustified force, emotional abuse, criminally negligent treatment, sexual abuse, mal- or mistreatment, exploitation, abandonment, or torture Persons in healing arts (medicine, dentistry, psychologist), social worker, school employee, medical examiner, or any other person Knows or reasonably suspects child abuse or neglect Division of Family Services Fined up to $1000 and/or jailed up to 15 days

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA §4-1301.02, et seq. The infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child, including excessive corporal punishment, an act of sexual abuse, molestation, exploitation, or injury that results from exposure to drug-related activity Physician, psychologist, nurse, law enforcement officer, school teacher/official, social service worker, day care worker, mental health professional (any other person may make report), medical examiner, dentist, chiropractor Knows or has reasonable cause to believe a child is in immediate danger of being mentally or physically abused or neglected Child and Family Services Agency Fined up to $100 and/or jailed up to 30 days
FLORIDA 39.202, 205; 39.201; 39.01(2) Willful or threatened act resulting in physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm, causing or likely to cause impairment of physical, mental, or emotional health Physician, mental health professional, spiritual practitioner, school teacher, social worker, law enforcement officer, judge One who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect neglect, abuse, or abandonment Department of Children and Family Services Misdemeanor in 1st degree; if knowingly made false report: felony in 3rd degree
GEORGIA 19-7-5 Physical injury or death inflicted on a child by other than accidental means including neglect, sexual abuse/exploitation Physicians, hospital personnel, dentists psychologists, nurses, social workers, counselors, school teachers/officials, child welfare agency and child service organization personnel, law enforcement personnel, podiatrists Reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused Child welfare agency providing protective services as designated by Department of Human Resources (or in absence of such, to police authority or district attorney) Misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
HAWAII 350-1, et seq. Acts or omissions that have resulted in harm to child's physical or psychological health or welfare (or substantial risk of being harmed); specific injuries listed in 350-1 Any licensed, registered professional of the healing arts or any other health-related occupation; school employees; law enforcement employees; child care providers; medical examiners/coroners; employees of public or private social, medical or mental health services agency, recreational/sports employees Reason to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or may occur in reasonably foreseeable future Department of Human Services or police department Petty misdemeanor
IDAHO 16-1601, et seq. Conduct resulting in skin bruising, bleeding, fractures, soft tissue injury, unexplained death, rape, molestation, prostitution, incest, pornographic filming, and other sexual exploitation Physician, nurse, resident, intern, coroner, school teacher, day care personnel, social worker, or other person Reason to believe that a child has been abused, neglected or abandoned, or subject to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect Department of Health and Welfare Misdemeanor; if reported in bad faith, person guilty of a misdemeanor and liable for actual damages or statutory damages of $500, whichever is greater, plus attorney's fees; if acting with malice or oppression, court can award treble actual damages or treble statutory damages, whichever is greater

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
ILLINOIS 325 ILCS 5/1, et seq. Inflicting or causing, allowing, or creating a substantial risk of physical injury, other than by accident, that causes death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function; committing or allowing to be committed any sex offense; torture, excessive corporal punishment, female genital mutilation; giving child access to controlled substances Physician, dentist, medical/hospital personnel, substance abuse counselor, Christian Science practitioner, coroner, funeral home employee, EMT, crisis/hotline personnel, school personnel, social worker, nurse, day care center worker, psychologist, law enforcement officer, domestic violence program personnel, foster parent, homemaker, child care worker, probation officer, public and private agency personnel Reasonable cause to believe a child may be abused or neglected Department of Children and Family Services Class A misdemeanor; if physician, referred to state medical disciplinary board; if dentist, referred to Dept. of Professional Regulation; false report is offense of disorderly conduct; second offense is Class 4 felony
INDIANA 31-33-1-1, et seq., 31-33-22-3, 31-9-2-14. 31-34-1-2, 31-33-22-1 Mental or physical condition seriously impaired or endangered as a result of neglect or injury; sex offense; child is missing; child is allowed to participate in obscene performance Health care provider, any member of medical or other private or public institution, school, facility or agency and any other individuals Reason to believe child is victim of child abuse or neglect Division of Family and Children; child abuse hotline or local law enforcement agency Intentionally and knowing false report: Class A misdemeanor and liable to person accused for actual damages and possible punitive damages; second offense is Class D felony; knowingly fails to make a report: Class B misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
IOWA 232.68, et seq. Any nonaccidental physical injury or mental injury to child's intellectual or psychological capacity as evidenced by substantial and observable impairment in child's ability to function within normal range; commission of sexual offense; an illegal drug present in child's body; allowing prostitution; failure in care of child to provide food, shelter, or clothing necessary for child's health and welfare Any health practitioner, social workers, psychologist, school employee, day care center employees, substance abuse program employee, human services institution employee, peace officer, juvenile detention or shelter care employee, mental health professional, counselor, foster care facility operator or employee; any other person may make a report Reasonably believes a child has suffered abuse State Department of Human Services Knowingly and willfully fails to report: simple misdemeanor and civilly liable for proximately caused damages; knowing false report: simple misdemeanor
KANSAS 38-1501, et seq. Infliction of mental, physical, or emotional injury causing deterioration of child including negligent treatment, maltreatment, or exploitation to the extent the child's health or emotional well-being is endangered; includes sexual abuse Person licensed to practice healing arts or dentistry, law enforcement personnel, psychologists, nurses, family/marriage therapists, school teachers or administrators, child care workers, social workers, EMS personnel, firefighters, appointed mediators Reasonably suspects child has been injured as a result of physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services or law enforcement agency Willful and knowing failure to report or prevention or interference with reporting: Class B misdemeanor
KENTUCKY 620.010, et seq., 620.990, 600.020 Interfering with child's right to adequate food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care and freedom from physical, sexual, or emotional injury or exploitation or abandonment Physician, nurse, teacher, school personnel, social worker, coroner, child-caring personnel, dentist, EMT, paramedic, health professional, mental health professional, peace officer, any organization or agency of the above Knows or has reasonable cause to believe that child is dependent, neglected, or abused Local law enforcement or Kentucky state police, commonwealth's attorney, cabinet or representative Intentional violation is Class B misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
LOUISIANA §14:403 Criminal; Art. 609 & 603 Children's Code Acts seriously endangering the physical, mental, or emotional health of child, including infliction or allowing infliction or attempted infliction of physical or mental injury; exploitation by overwork; sexual abuse or involvement in pornography Any health practitioner, mental health/social service practitioner, teacher or child care provider, police officer or law enforcement, and commercial film and photographic print processor, and mediators, clergy Cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare is endangered as a result of abuse or neglect Local child protection unit of the Department of Social Services Knowingly and willfully fails to report or makes a false report: misdemeanor and up to $500 and/or 6 months jail
MAINE 22§4002, 4011, et seq., 22 §4009 Threat to child's health or welfare by physical, mental, or emotional injury or impairment, sexual abuse/exploitation, deprivation of essential needs Medical/osteopathic physician, EMS, medical examiner, dentist, chiropractor, nurse, teacher, guidance counselor, social worker, homemaker, guardian ad litem, social service worker, psychologist, child care worker, mental health professional, law enforcement official, state and municipal fire inspector, municipal code enforcement officer, clergy, commercial film processor, licensing board chair, summer camp administrator or counselor, human agent employed by the Dept. of Ag., Food, & Rural Resources, any other person may report Knows or has reasonable cause to suspect a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected Department of Human Services Civil violation with fine of not more than $500
MARYLAND Family Law §5-701, et seq. Physical or mental injury of a child under circumstances that indicate the child's health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; sexual abuse All health practitioners, police officers, educators, human service workers. Any other person, if notification does not violate privilege or confidentiality Reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect Social Services Administration of the department or appropriate law enforcement agency  

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
MASSACHUSETTS 119§51A, 119§21 Physical or emotional abuse or injury causing harm to child's health or welfare including sexual abuse/neglect, malnutrition and physical dependence upon addictive drug at birth Physician, hospital personnel, psychologist, medical examiner, EMT, dentist, nurse, chiropractor, school teacher, educational administrator, counselor, day care worker, probation and parole officers, clerk of the court, social worker, firefighter, policeman, mental health services professional, foster parent, drug and alcohol counselor, clergy Reasonable cause to believe a child is suffering from physical or emotional injury causing harm or substantial risk of harm to child's health and welfare Department of Social Services Fine up to $1,000
MICHIGAN 722.621-623, 633 Harm or threatened harm to child's health or welfare that occurs through nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse/exploitation, or maltreatment Physician, coroner, dentist, dental hygienist, EMT, psychologist, therapist/counselor, social worker, school administrator or teacher, law enforcement officer, child care provider, medical examiner, audiologist, clergy, anyone else may report Reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect (pregnancy under 12 or venereal disease in child over 1 month but under 12 years is reasonable cause to suspect abuse) State Family Independence Agency Civilly liable for proximately caused damages; guilty of misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail and/or fine of not more than $100; intentionally making false report: if abuse was misdemeanor or not a crime, misdemeanor (93 days in jail and/or fine of not more than $100); if abuse is felony, lesser of penalty for the abuse or imprisonment for not more than 4 yrs. and/or fine of not more than $2,000

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
MINNESOTA 626.556 Physical or mental injury inflicted on child other than by accidental means or which can't be reasonably explained; any aversive or deprivation procedures; sexual abuse, neglect-failure to protect a child from conditions which endanger the child's health; discipline which is not reasonable Professional and professional's delegate in healing arts, social services, hospital administration, psychological treatment, child care, education, law enforcement, clergy (for information received while engaged in ministerial duties), any other person may report Knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused (or has been in preceding 3 years) Local welfare agency, police department, county sheriff, or agency responsible for investigating the report Failure to report: misdemeanor; failure by parent, guardian or caretaker: gross misdemeanor if child suffers harm; if a child dies, felony and imprisonment for 2 yrs. and/or $4000 fine; knowing or reckless false report: person civilly liable for actual damages suffered and punitive damages and attorney's fees
MISSISSIPPI 43-21-353; 43-21-105 Sexual abuse or exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, nonaccidental physical injury, maltreatment Attorney, physician, dentist, nurse, psychologist, social worker, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, school employee, or any other person Reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused Department of Human Services Willful violation: up to $5,000 fine and/or up to 1 year jail
MISSOURI 210.110, et seq. Any physical injury, sexual abuse, emotional abuse inflicted on child other than by accidental means by caregiver (spanking in a reasonable manner not included) Physician, medical examiner, dentist, chiropractor, coroner, optometrist, nurse, hospital or clinic personnel, any other health practitioner, psychologist, social worker, mental health professional, day care center worker, juvenile officer, probation or parole officer, teacher, school official, law enforcement officer, minister Reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect or observes such conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect Missouri Division of Family Services Class A misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
MONTANA 41-3-102, 41-3-201, et seq. Harm or substantial risk of harm to child's health and welfare; or abandonment including acts or omissions of person responsible for child's welfare. Does not include self-defense, defense of others, or action taken to prevent self-harm of child. Physician, member of hospital staff, coroner, mental health professional, dentist, Christian Science practitioner, religious healers, school teachers and officials, social workers, day care/child care workers, foster care worker, clergy (unless privileged communication), law enforcement officer, guardian ad litem or court appointed advocate Know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or neglected Department of Public Health and Human Services or its local affiliate Guilty of misdemeanor and civilly liable for proximately caused damages
NEBRASKA 28-710-717 Knowingly, intentionally or negligently causing or permitting a child to be: placed in a situation endangering life or physical or mental health, cruelly confined or punished, deprived of necessaries, child under 6 years left unattended in vehicle, or sexually abused or exploited Physician, medical institution, nurse, school employee, social worker, or other person Reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or observes child being subjected to conditions and circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect Department of Health and Human Services or law enforcement agency (also a state-wide toll-free number) Class III misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
NEVADA 432B.010, et seq. Physical or mental injury of a nonaccidental nature; sexual abuse or exploitation; negligent treatment or maltreatment such that child's health or welfare is harmed, excessive corporal punishment (432B-150) Physician, dentist, coroner, chiropractor, nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist, marriage/family therapist, drug/alcohol counselor, EMT, hospital administration and personnel, clergyman, religious healer, Christian Science practitioner, social worker, foster home employees, child care employees, law enforcement officer, probation officer, attorney, volunteer referral abuse service, school employees, persons who maintain youth shelters or foster homes, optometrist, athletic trainer Know or have reason to believe a child has been abused or neglected Law enforcement agency or local office of Division of Child and Family Services of the Department of Human Resources (they also provide a toll-free telephone number for reporting) Knowing or willful violation: misdemeanor
NEW HAMPSHIRE 169-C:3, 169-C:29, et seq. Sexual abuse, intentional physical injury, psychological injury such that child exhibits symptoms of emotional problems generally recognized to result from consistent mistreatment or neglect, or physical injury by other than nonaccidental means Physician, surgeon, medical examiner, psychiatrist, optometrist, psychologist, therapist, nurse, dentist, chiropractor, hospital personnel, Christian Science practitioner, school teacher or official, social worker, day care worker, foster/child care worker, law enforcement official, priest, minister, rabbi, any other person Having reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected Department of Health and Human Services Knowing violation: misdemeanor

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
NEW JERSEY 9:6-8.9, et seq. Physical injury by other than accidental means; causing substantial risk of death or serious disfigurement or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health; sexual abuse or acts of sexual abuse; willful abandonment; willful isolation of ordinary social contact to indicate emotional or social deprivation; inappropriate placement in institution; neglect by not supplying adequate care, necessaries or supervision Any person Having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse Division of Youth and Family Services (they also maintain a 24-hour hotline) in Department of Human Services Knowing violation: disorderly person
NEW MEXICO 32A-4-1, et seq. Physical, emotional or psychological abuse including sexual abuse, exploitation, abandonment, or neglect, torture, confinement, cruel punishment Physician, law enforcement officer, judge, nurse, school teacher or official, social worker, clergy, or any other person suspecting abuse. Knows or has reasonable suspicion that child is abused or neglected Law enforcement agency or department office in county where child resides or tribal law enforcement or social services for Indian child Misdemeanor (up to 1 yr. jail and/or fine up to $1000)

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
NEW YORK Soc. Services. §411-428 Injury by other than accidental means causing death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health; deliberate indifference causing such injury; creating substantial risk of such injury; sexual abuse, permitting sexual criminal behavior Physician, coroner, dentist, chiropractor, psychologist, nurse, school official, hospital personnel, social services worker, day care center worker, mental health professional, Christian Science practitioner, substance abuse/alcoholism counselor, peace officer, police officer, district attorney, residential care facility worker, foster care worker, optometrist, podiatrist, EMT; any person may report Reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or maltreated or knows from personal knowledge of parent or guardian, facts, conditions, or circumstances which, if correct, would render the child abused or maltreated Statewide central register of child abuse or local child protective services Class A misdemeanor and civil liability
NORTH CAROLINA 7B-101, et seq. Inflicts or allows to be inflicted or creates a substantial risk of injury other than by accidental means or commits, permits, or encourages any type of sexual abuse or creates or allows serious emotional damage to juvenile or does not provide proper care or necessary medical care or abandons child uses inappropriate devices or procedures to modify behavior or encourages, directs, or approves of delinquent acts involving moral turpitude Any person or institution Cause to suspect that juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, or has died as the result of maltreatment Director of Department of Social Services in county where juvenile resides  

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
NORTH DAKOTA 50-25.1-01, et seq. Suffering from serious physical harm or traumatic abuse caused other than by accidental means including sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, corruption or solicitation Physician, nurse, dentist, optometrist, coroner, medical or mental health professional, religious practitioner, school teacher/administrator, social worker, day care center worker, police/law enforcement officer, addiction counselor, school counselor, clergy Having knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or neglected or has died as a result of abuse or neglect Dept. of Human Services or its designee Class B misdemeanor; unless made to law enforcement officer, then Class A misdemeanor; willfully make false report, also liable for all civil damages including exemplary damages
OHIO 2151.011, et seq.; 2921.14; 2151.421 Victim of sexual activity offense constituting abuse or exhibits evidence of physical or mental injury inflicted other than by accidental means, or threats or harm to child's health and welfare, or is an endangered child under 2919.22 Attorney, physician, nurse, other health care professional, dentist, coroner, day care worker, school teacher/employer, social worker, professional counselor, speech pathologist, child services agency employee, person rendering spiritual treatment through prayer, psychologist, day camp employee Knows or suspects child has suffered or faces threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect The Public Children's Services Agency or municipal or county peace officer in county where child resides Guilty of making a false report: misdemeanor of the first degree
OKLAHOMA Tit. 10 7102-7105 Harm or threatened harm to child's health, safety, or welfare including but not limited to nonaccidental physical or mental injury sexual abuse/exploitation or negligent treatment (including lack of provision of necessities such as food, shelter, medical care, etc.) or abandonment Physician, dentist, nurse, teacher, other person who has reason to believe abuse Having reason to believe that child is a victim of abuse or neglect Department of Human Services Failure to report is a misdemeanor. Any false reporting is reported by Department of Human Services to local law enforcement for criminal investigation and upon conviction, is guilty of misdemeanor and may be fined up to $5,000 plus reasonable attorney's fees incurred in recovering the sanctions

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
OREGON 419B.005-100 Any assault of a child and any physical injury to a child caused by other than accidental means (including injuries at variance with explanation given for injury), rape, sexual abuse/exploitation, allowing child to engage in prostitution, failure to provide adequate care, buying or selling child as described in ORS 163.537, negligent treatment, threatening harm to child's health or welfare, any mental injury which includes observable and substantial impairment to child's ability to function or permitting a child to enter or remain in a place where methamphetamines are being manufactured Any public or private official, including: peace/law enforcement officers, physician, dentist, nurse, school employee, department of human resources employee, psychologist, clergyman, social worker, chiropractor, optometrist, day care or child care worker, attorney, professional counselor, therapist, EMT, firefighter, naturopathic physician (see right), special advocate Have reasonable cause to believe that child has suffered abuse or has inflicted abuse on child Local office of Dept. of Human Services Class A violation
PENNSYLVANIA 23§6303, et seq. Act which causes nonaccidental serious physical injury, sexual abuse/exploitation, serious physical neglect constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or failure to provide essentials of life Physician, coroner, dentist, chiropractor, hospital personnel, Christian Science practitioner, clergy, school teacher/nurse/administrator, social services worker, day care or child center worker, mental health professional, peace officer, law enforcement official, funeral director, foster care worker Reasonable cause to suspect (within their respective training) that child is abused Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth Summary offense for 1st violation; misdemeanor in 3rd degree for 2nd and subsequent offenses

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
RHODE ISLAND 40-11-1, et seq. Child whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm including excessive corporal punishment, sexual abuse/exploitation, neglect, or abandonment Any person with reasonable cause Reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or been the victim of sexual abuse Department for Children and their Families (department to establish statewide toll-free 24-hour/7-day-a-week telephone number for reporting) Misdemeanor and up to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 1 year for failure to report; misdemeanor and up to $1000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 1 year for false report
SOUTH CAROLINA 20-7-490, et seq. Child whose death results from or whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm including physical or mental injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment, sexual abuse/exploitation, neglect or abandonment, encouraging delinquency Physician, nurse, dentist, coroner, EMT, mental health or allied health professional, clergy, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer, school teacher/counselor, social or public assistance worker, child care or day care center worker, police or law enforcement officer, undertaker, funeral home director/employee, judge, optometrist, film processor Having reason to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect County Department of Social Services or law enforcement agency in county where child resides or is found Failure to report: misdemeanor, and fine up to $500 and/or jail up to 6 months; False report: subject to civil action for actual & punitive damages, costs and attorney's fees

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
SOUTH DAKOTA 26-8A-1, et seq. Child who is threatened with substantial harm; sustained emotional harm or mental injury (evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of child's ability to function); subject to sexual abuse/exploitation; who lacks proper parental care; whose environment is injurious to child's welfare; who is abandoned, or who has been prenatally subjected to illegal drug or alcohol abuse, or who is knowingly exposed to an environment used to manufacture methamphetamines Physician, dentist, chiropractor, nurse, optometrist, mental health professional, psychologist, religious healing practitioner, social worker, parole or court services officer, law enforcement officer, teacher, nurse, school counselor/official, child welfare provider, coroner, chemical dependency counselor, domestic abuse shelter worker, podiatrist Have reasonable cause to suspect a child has been abused or neglected State's attorney in county where child resides or is present, department of social services or to law enforcement officer Class 1 misdemeanor
TENNESSEE 37-1-401, et seq. Any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition which is of a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect; also includes sexual abuse Physician, chiropractor, hospital personnel, any other health or mental health professional, spiritual healing practitioner, school teacher/personnel, judge, social worker, day care center worker, foster care worker, law enforcement officer, neighbor, relative, friend, or any other person Having knowledge or being called on to render aid to any child suffering from or sustaining a wound or injury which is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate or which on the basis of available information appears to indicate have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect Department of Children's Services Class A misdemeanor: false reporting of child sexual abuse: Class E felony

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
TEXAS Family 261.001 et seq. Inflicting or failing to reasonably prevent others from inflicting mental or emotional injury impairing child's growth, development, or psychological functioning; physical injury resulting in substantial harm, or which is at variance with explanation given; sexual abuse, exploitation, use of controlled substance resulting in mental or physical harm to child "Professionals" including teachers, nurses, doctors, day care employees, employees of state-licensed or certified organizations with direct contact with children, clergy, mental health professional, attorney, reproductive health clinic worker, any person Having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services Class B misdemeanor Physical injury resulting in substantial harm; mental or emotional injury; failure to prevent injury; harmful sexual conduct or pornography; failure to prevent use of controlled substance by child False report: Class A misdemeanor
UTAH 62A-4a-401, et seq. Causing harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare through neglect or abuse including nonaccidental physical or mental injury, incest, sexual abuse/exploitation, molestation, or repeated negligent treatment Physicians, nurses, other licensed health care professionals, other officials and institutions, any person (except priest/clergy unless person making confession consents) Reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or observe a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse Nearest peace officer, law enforcement agency, or office of the division Class B misdemeanor (must be commenced within 4 years from date of knowledge of offense)
VERMONT 33§4911, et seq. Child whose physical health, psychological growth and development or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of persons responsible for child; includes sexual abuse, abandonment, emotional maltreatment, neglect Physician, chiropractor, nurse, hospital administrator, medical examiner, dentist, psychologist, other health care providers, school teacher/officials, day care worker, social worker, mental health professional, probation officer, camp owner/administrator/counselor, police officer, and any other concerned persons Reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected Commissioner of social and rehabilitation services or designee Fined up to $500

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
VIRGINIA 63.2-1501, et seq.; 63.2-100 To create, inflict or threaten to create or inflict or allow to be created or inflicted upon a child a physical or mental injury by other than accidental means or create a substantial risk of death or impairment; neglect; abandonment; sexual abuse/exploitation Any person licensed to practice medicine or healing arts, nurses, social worker, probation officer, child care worker, school employee, teacher, Christian Science practitioner, mental health professional, law enforcement officer, mediator, any employee of facility which takes care of children, special advocate Have reason to suspect that a child is abused or neglected Department of Social Services toll-free child abuse or neglect hotline or to department of public welfare or social services in county where child resides Failure to report within 72 hours of first suspicion of child abuse: fine up to $500; subsequent failures: $100-$1,000 fine False report: Class 1 misdemeanor (first offense); Class 6 felony (subsequent offenses)
WASHINGTON 26.44.010. et seq. The injury, sexual abuse/exploitation or negligent treatment of a child, under circumstances which indicate that such child's health, welfare, or safety is harmed All practitioners, coroners, law enforcement officer, school personnel, nurse, social services counselor, psychologist, pharmacist, child care providers, juvenile probation officer, health and social services department employee Reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect State Department of Social and Health Services or proper law enforcement agency Gross Misdemeanor
WEST VIRGINIA 49-6A-1, et seq., 49-1-3 Physical, mental, or emotional injury, sexual abuse/exploitation, negligent treatment, sale or attempted sale of child; any circumstances which harm or threaten the health and welfare of the child Medical, dental, or mental health professional, religious healer, Christian Science practitioner, school teacher/personnel, social services worker, child care worker, EMT, peace or law enforcement official, circuit court judge, family law master or magistrate, clergy Reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or neglected or observes a child subjected to conditions likely to result in abuse or neglect State Department of Human Services Misdemeanor, up to 10 days in county jail and/or fine of $100

Table 25: Child Abuse—Continued

State Code Section What Constitutes Abuse Mandatory Reporting Required By Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect To Whom Reported Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
WISCONSIN 48.981, 48.02 Physical injury inflicted on child other than by accidental means, sexual abuse/exploitation, emotional damage, (harm to child's psychological or intellectual functioning which is exhibited by anxiety, depression, or other outward behavior) or neglect (failure to provide necessaries of life); on unborn child, habitual lack of self control by expectant mother in use of alcohol and controlled drugs Physician, coroner, nurse, dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other medical or mental health professional, social worker, marriage or family therapist, counselor, public assistance worker, school teacher/administrator/counselor, mediator, child care or day care center worker, physical or occupational therapists, EMT, speech-language pathologists, police or law enforcement officer, attorney, member of treatment staff or alcohol/drug abuse counselor Reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been threatened with abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect will occur The county department (or licensed child welfare agency under contract with the county department) or sheriff or police department Fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail
WYOMING 14-3-201, et seq. The inflicting or causing of physical or mental injury, harm or imminent danger to the physical or mental health or welfare of a child other than by accidental means including abandonment, excessive/unreasonable corporal punishment, malnutrition, intentional or unintentional neglect or the commission of a sexual offense Any person; member/staff of medical (public or private) institution, school, agency, or facility must also notify person in charge Reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or who observes any child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect Child protective agency or local law enforcement agency Misdemeanor, fine up to $500 and/or up to 6 months in jail for disclosing confidential records of child abuse
Child Custody laws - Information on the law about Child Custody [next] [back] Capital Punishment laws - Information on the law about Capital Punishment

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

If a case of child abuse has been founded by the cps; do the parents have to file criminal charges or will the cps do it?

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

I was abused and the case was unfounded so my friends dad got to walk a free man. In honor of those who were abused, like me, I'm doing my senior project on child abuse to make it more known in my community.

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

Angela, in most states you can call in anonymously. It's been two years, but if you still need to know. Just look up a number for your area and call it in. If it is anonymous they will have know way of knowing its you.

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

child abuse

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

well i have a project and the topic is the punishment child abuse i want to know what is the punish for the abuser..??i want to know if is to weak of if its okay as how it is right now or if its really strong..!! i need help please

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

i know someone and she lives in MA and her parents are trying to make her do acupunture for a problem she has. if she doesn't want to do it and is afraid of it, is there a law against it? because her parents said that if she can find laws against they won't make her do it.

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

HAHAHA

Vote down Vote up

over 8 years ago

I currently know someone that I believe is being abused. His family members, friends, and himself have told me. I'm not positive if he will admit it to authorities in fear of being hurt worse but I've heard that his step father has made him hospitalized before. I know that they don't let the issue get public but I'm very afraid of what might happen to him. Is there something i can do without having the family know that it's been reported or anything like that?