Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Alabama


Physical Abuse

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-1(1)-(3)

Abuse' means harm or threatened harm to the health or welfare of a child through any of the following:

  • Nonaccidental physical injury
  • Sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse
  • Sexual exploitation or attempted sexual exploitation


Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-1(1)-(3)

'Neglect' means negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, or supervision.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-1(1)-(3)

'Sexual abuse' includes any of the following:

  • The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of a child to engage in, or to have a child assist any other person engage in, sexually explicit conduct
  • Any simulation of the conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct
  • The rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children
  • Incest with children

'Sexual exploitation' includes either of the following:

  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution
  • Allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in obscene or pornographic photographing, filming, or depicting a child for commercial purposes

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-1(1)-(3)

The term 'abuse' includes nonaccidental mental injury.


This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-3

A report is required when a mandatory reporter knows or suspects a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ala. Code §§ 26-14-7.2; 26-15-2

Responsible persons include the child's parent or legal guardian. The term 'responsible person' includes a child's natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, legal guardian, custodian, or any other person who has the permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for the supervision of a child.


Citation: Ala. Code § 26-14-7.2

A parent who fails to provide medical treatment to a child due to the legitimate practice of religious beliefs shall not be considered negligent for that reason alone. This exception shall not preclude a court from ordering that medical services be provided to the child.

The Department of Human Resources may, in any case, pursue any legal remedies, including the initiation of legal proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction, as may be necessary to provide medical care or treatment for a child when the care or treatment is necessary to prevent or remedy serious harm to the child or to prevent the withholding of medically indicated treatments from infants with disabilities and with life-threatening conditions.