Delaware's Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect

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Physical Abuse: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 902; Tit. 10, § 901
'Abuse' or 'abused child' means a person:
  • Causes or inflicts sexual abuse on a child
  • Has care, custody, or control of a child, and causes or inflicts:
    • Physical injury through unjustified force
    • Emotional abuse
    • Torture
    • Exploitation
    • Maltreatment or mistreatment

'Mistreatment' or 'maltreatment' are behaviors that inflict unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering on a child without causing physical injury. Behaviors included consist of actions and omissions that are intentional and unintentional.

Neglect: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 902; Tit. 10, § 901
'Neglect' or 'neglected child' means that a person who is responsible for the care, custody, and/or control of the child and has the ability and financial means to provide for the care of the child:

  • Fails to provide necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, health, medical, or other care necessary for the child's emotional, physical, or mental health, or safety and general well-being
  • Chronically and severely abuses alcohol or a controlled substance, is not active in treatment for such abuse, and the abuse threatens the child's ability to receive care necessary for that child's safety and general well-being
  • Fails to provide necessary and appropriate supervision for a child when the child is unable to care for his or her own basic needs or safety, after considering such factors as the child's age, mental ability, physical condition, the length of the caregiver's absence, and the context of the child's environment

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 902; Tit. 10, § 901
The term 'abuse' includes sexual abuse and exploitation.

'Sexual abuse' means any act against a child that is described as a sex offense in § 761(g) of Title 11.

'Exploitation' means taking advantage of a child for unlawful or unjustifiable personal or sexual gain.

Emotional Abuse: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 10, § 901
The term 'abuse' includes emotional abuse. 'Emotional abuse' means threats to inflict undue physical or emotional harm, and/or chronic or recurring incidents of ridiculing, demeaning, making derogatory remarks, or cursing.

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Standards for Reporting: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 903
A report is required when a person knows or in good faith suspects child abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 902; Tit. 10, § 901
'Those responsible for care custody and control' means a person or persons in a position of trust, authority, supervision, or control over a child. They include:

  • A parent, guardian, or custodian
  • Other members of the child's family or household, including persons living together permanently or temporarily without regard to whether they are related to each other and without regard to the length of time or continuity of such residence, including persons who previously lived in the household such as paramours of a member of the child's household
  • Any person who is defined as a family member or relative, regardless of whether a member of the child's household
  • Persons temporarily responsible for the child's well-being or care such as a health-care provider, aide, teacher, instructor, coach, sitter, daycare or child care provider, or any other person having regular direct contact with children through affiliation with a school, church, or religious institution, health-care facility, athletic or charitable organization, or any other organization, whether such a person is compensated or acting as a volunteer
  • Any person who has assumed control of or responsibility for the child

Exceptions: Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 913
No child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the practices of a recognized church or religious denomination shall for that reason alone be considered neglected.