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Physical Abuse: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
'Abuse' means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause a child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions.
'Harm' to a child's health or welfare can occur when a person:
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury
- Purposely gives a child poison, alcohol, drugs, or other substances that substantially affect the child's behavior, motor coordination, or judgment or that result in sickness or internal injury
- Leaves a child without adult supervision or arrangement appropriate for the child's age or mental or physical condition
- Uses inappropriate or excessively harsh discipline that is likely to result in physical injury, mental injury as defined in this section, or emotional injury
- Commits or allows to be committed sexual battery against the child
- Allows, encourages, or forces the sexual exploitation of a child
- Abandons the child
- Neglects the child
- Exposes a child to a controlled substance or alcohol
- Uses mechanical devices, unreasonable restraints, or extended periods of isolation to control a child
- Engages in violent behavior that demonstrates a wanton disregard for the presence of a child and could reasonably result in serious injury to the child
- Negligently fails to protect a child in his or her care from inflicted physical, mental, or sexual injury caused by the acts of another
- Has allowed a child's sibling to die as a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect
- Makes the child unavailable for the purpose of impeding or avoiding a protective investigation unless the court determines that the parent, legal custodian, or caregiver was fleeing from a situation involving domestic violence
Neglect: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
'Neglect' occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment; or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.
Sexual Abuse/Exploitation: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
'Sexual abuse of a child' means one or more of the following acts:
- Any penetration, however slight, of the vagina or anal opening of one person by the penis of another person, whether or not there is the emission of semen
- Any sexual contact between the genitals or anal opening of one person and the mouth or tongue of another person
- Any intrusion by one person into the genitals or anal opening of another person, including the use of any object for this purpose, not including any act intended for a valid medical purpose
- The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts, including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of either the child or the perpetrator, not including:
- An act that may reasonably be construed to be a normal caregiver responsibility or any interaction with or affection for a child
- An act intended for a valid medical purpose
- The intentional masturbation of the perpetrator's genitals in the presence of a child
- The intentional exposure of the perpetrator's genitals in the presence of a child, or any other sexual act intentionally perpetrated in the presence of a child, if such exposure or sexual act is for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, aggression, degradation, or other similar purpose
- The sexual exploitation of a child, including allowing, encouraging, or forcing a child to solicit for or engage in prostitution or engage in a sexual performance
Emotional Abuse: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
'Mental injury' means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability to function within the normal range of performance and behavior.
Abandonment: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
'Abandoned' or 'abandonment' occurs when the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able, makes no provision for the child's support and has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child.
For purposes of this subsection, 'establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship' includes, but is not limited to, frequent and regular contact with the child through frequent and regular visitation or frequent and regular communication to or with the child, and the exercise of parental rights and responsibilities. Marginal efforts and incidental or token visits or communications are not sufficient to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with a child.
The term does not include a surrendered newborn infant as described in § 383.50, a 'child in need of services' or a 'family in need of services' as defined in chapter 984. The incarceration of a parent, legal custodian, or caregiver responsible for a child's welfare may support a finding of abandonment.
Standards for Reporting: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.201
A report is required when a person knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected.
Persons Responsible for the Child: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
Responsible persons include the child's parent or legal custodian, or, in the absence of the parent or legal custodian, the child's caregiver. The term 'caregiver' includes the parent, legal custodian, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child's welfare.
'Other person responsible for a child's welfare' includes:
- The child's legal guardian or foster parent
- An employee of a private school, public or private child daycare center, residential home, institution, facility, or agency
- A law enforcement officer employed in any facility, service, or program for children that is operated or contracted by the Department of Juvenile Justice
- Any other person legally responsible for the child's welfare in a residential setting
- An adult sitter or relative entrusted with a child's care
Exceptions: Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.01
Corporal discipline of a child by a parent does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.
It shall not be considered neglect if failure to provide for the child is caused primarily by financial inability unless actual services for relief have been offered to and rejected by the parent.
A parent legitimately practicing religious beliefs in accordance with a recognized church or religious organization who does not provide specific medical treatment for a child may not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent. This exception does not preclude a court from ordering medical services or other treatment to be provided when the health of the child so requires.