Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Alaska

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.290

'Child abuse or neglect' means the physical injury or neglect, mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment of a child under age 18 by a person under circumstances that indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened.

'Maltreatment' means an act or omission that results in circumstances in which there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be a child in need of aid, as described in § 47.10.011, except that for purposes of this chapter, the act or omission need not have been committed by the child's parent, custodian, or guardian.

Neglect

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.290; 47.10.011; 47.10.014

'Neglect' means the failure of the person responsible for the child's welfare to provide the child necessary food, care, clothing, shelter, or medical attention.

The court may find a child to be a child in need of aid if it finds that the child has been subjected to any of the following:

  • The child needs medical treatment to cure, alleviate, or prevent substantial physical harm or needs treatment for mental injury and the child's parent or guardian has knowingly failed to provide the treatment.
  • The child has suffered substantial physical harm, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer substantial physical harm, because of conduct by or conditions created by the child's parent or guardian or by the failure of the parent or guardian to supervise the child adequately.
  • The conduct by or conditions created by the parent or guardian have subjected the child or another child in the same household to neglect.
  • The parent's ability to parent has been substantially impaired by the addictive or habitual use of an intoxicant, and the addictive or habitual use of the intoxicant has resulted in a substantial risk of harm to the child.
  • The parent has a mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or mental deficiency of a nature and duration that places the child at substantial risk of physical harm or mental injury.

The court may find neglect of a child if the parent, guardian, or custodian fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical attention, or other care and control necessary for the child's physical and mental health and development, though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.290; 47.10.011; 11.66.110

'Child abuse or neglect' includes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.

The court may find a child to be a child in need of aid if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the child has been subjected to any of the following:

  • The child has suffered sexual abuse, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer sexual abuse, because of conduct by or conditions created by the child's parent or guardian or by the failure of the parent or guardian custodian to adequately supervise the child.
  • A parent or guardian, after receiving notice that a person has been convicted of a sex offense against a minor within the past 15 years, is registered or required to register as a sex offender, or is under investigation for a sex offense against a minor, subsequently allow a child to be left with that person.

'Sexual exploitation' includes the following conduct by a person responsible for the child's welfare:

  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, as prohibited by §§ 11.66.100 through 11.66.150
  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in actual or simulated activities of a sexual nature that are prohibited by criminal statute

A person commits the crime of sex trafficking in the first degree if the person does any of the following:

  • Induces or causes another person to engage in prostitution through the use of force
  • As other than a patron of a prostitute, induces or causes another person who is under age 20 to engage in prostitution
  • Induces or causes a person in that person's legal custody to engage in prostitution

In a prosecution, it is not a defense that the defendant reasonably believed that the person induced or caused to engage in prostitution was age 20 or older.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.290; 47.10.011

'Mental injury' means a serious injury to the child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child's ability to function in a developmentally appropriate manner, and the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a qualified expert witness.

The court may find a child to be a child in need of aid if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that conduct by or conditions created by the parent, guardian, or custodian have resulted in mental injury to the child or placed the child at substantial risk of mental injury because of any of the following:

  • A pattern of rejecting, terrorizing, ignoring, isolating, or corrupting behavior that would, if continued, result in mental injury
  • Exposure to conduct by a household member against another household member that constitutes a crime against a person (including homicide, assault, or a sexual offense)
  • Repeated exposure to conduct by a household member against another household member that is a crime (including assault, reckless endangerment, or stalking)

Abandonment

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.10.011; 47.10.013

The court may find a child to be a child in need of aid if it finds that the child has been subjected to any of the following:

  • A parent or guardian has abandoned the child, and the other parent is absent or has committed conduct or created conditions that cause the child to be a child in need of aid.
  • A parent, guardian, or custodian is incarcerated, the other parent is absent or has committed conduct or created conditions that cause the child to be a child in need of aid, and the incarcerated parent has not made adequate arrangements for the child.
  • A custodian with whom the child has been left is unwilling or unable to provide care, supervision, or support for the child, and the whereabouts of the parent or guardian is unknown.

The court may find abandonment of a child if a parent or guardian has shown a conscious disregard of parental responsibilities toward the child by failing to provide reasonable support, maintain regular contact, or provide normal supervision considering the child's age and need for care by an adult. Abandonment of a child also includes instances when the parent, without justifiable cause, has does any of the following:

  • Left the child with another person without provision for the child's support and without meaningful communication with the child for 3 months
  • Made only minimal efforts to support and communicate with the child
  • Failed for at least 6 months to maintain regular visitation with the child
  • Failed to participate in a suitable plan or program designed to reunite the parent with the child
  • Left the child without the means of identifying the child and the child's parent
  • Was absent from the home for a period of time that created a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home
  • Failed to respond to notice of child protective proceedings
  • Was unwilling to provide care, support, or supervision for the child

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.020

A report is required when a mandatory reporter, in the performance of their occupational duties, has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of child abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.290

A 'person responsible for the child's welfare' includes the following:

  • The child's parent, guardian, or foster parent
  • The person responsible for the child's care at the time of the alleged child abuse or neglect
  • The person responsible for the child's welfare in a public or private residential agency or institution

Exceptions

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.020(d)

A religious healing practitioner is not required to report as neglect of a child the failure to provide medical attention to the child if the child is provided treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by an accredited practitioner of the church or denomination.