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What is Child Abuse/Neglect?

The Family Court Act of the state of New York defines child neglect or abuse as the act, or failure to act, by any parent or caretaker that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child under the age of 18.

Child Abuse

  • Child physical abuse occurs when a parent or caretaker inflicts or allows someone to inflict serious physical injury other than by accidental means.
  • This includes, but is not limited to, shaking, beating, biting, kicking, punching, and burning. It is also considered abuse if a parent creates a condition or allows the condition to be created, that leads to a child becoming the victim of serious physical injury.
  • Child sexual abuse includes incest, rape, obscene sexual performance, fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, sodomy, and any other contact such as exposing a child to sexual activity, or commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution of a minor or production of pornographic materials involving a minor.

Child Neglect

Neglect is defined as the failure of a parent or caretaker to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm. Some examples include:

  • Failure to support a child’s educational needs either by keeping a child home from school for unexcused reasons or not following up with a child’s educational needs despite the school’s outreach to the parent or caretaker.
  • Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, or shelter.
  • Failure to provide medical or mental health care (including drug abuse services).
  • Leaving a child alone who is not developmentally able to be left alone without adequate supervision.
  • Leaving a child with someone without establishing a plan for the provision for food, clothing, education, or medical care.
  • Leaving a child with someone that does not have the ability to appropriately supervise or protect the child.
  • Subjecting a child to humiliation, fear, verbal terror, or extreme criticism.
  • Using corporal punishment beyond what is objectionably reasonable and it results in the physical or emotional harm of a child.
  • Exposing a child to family violence.
  • Parent or caretaker using drugs to the point of not being able to adequately take care of a child.
  • Keeping, manufacturing, or selling drugs in the presence of a child, or giving drugs to a child.

Download the Parent’s Guide to New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Laws (English | Spanish)