Abuse and Neglect Defined


So, what defines abuse and neglect?

Approximately 78.3 percent of all abuse cases in the U.S. are cases of neglect. Last week on our Facebook page we posed the question, "What do you think constitutes neglect?" Fifteen people gave their opinions, and here are just a few of the answers we got:

"When a child does not get their basic needs on a daily basiss."

"Any time a child’s mental physical emotional and spiritual needs are not met. It takes all those aspects of life to thrive."

"Not showing your child that you love them. Not letting your actions and words back up that love."

The last one is a great one to live by: if you are focused on loving your child through your actions and words, then you will care for them in a way that is not neglectful. However, sometimes there is confusion about what really does qualify as neglect. On that note, we also received this rather insightful post from Melissa:

"Rather than focus on individual opinions of what constitutes neglect, I believe it would be helpful to educate people on legal standards such as 'minimum sufficient level of care.' The difference between the two can be vast, and understanding the law as it relates to child welfare cases can be helpful in eliminating some of the frustration and confusion often felt toward law enforcement and child welfare social workers."

Unfortunately, on this blog we can’t delineate what constitutes neglect and abuse in each individual state. However, the federal law CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act 42 USC 5106) lays out a federal floor for which acts are considered child abuse and neglect.

This is only a floor, meaning it acts as a base for states to expand on and define additional specific acts as abuse. At a minimum however, the following must be defined as child abuse and neglect.

1. Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation.
2. Any act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

If you would like more information about your state specifically, please visit www.childwelfare.gov

You can also find information on our website about signs and symptoms of abuse

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