Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - American Samoa

Date:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 45.2001(a)(1)

'Abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' means an act or omission that can include any of the following:

  • Serious bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, failure to thrive, burns, fracture of a bone, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling, or death
  • A condition or death that is not justifiably explained, when the history given concerning the condition or death is inconsistent with the degree or type of condition or death, or circumstances indicate that the condition or death may not be the result of an accidental occurrence

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 45.2001(a)(1); 45.0103(19)

'Abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' means any case in which the child's parents, legal guardians, custodians, or any other person responsible for the child's health and welfare fail to take action to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision that a prudent parent would take.

'Neglected or dependent child' means a child to whom any of the following apply:

  • Whose parent, guardian, or legal custodian has abandoned them or has subjected them to mistreatment or abuse, or whose parent, guardian, or legal custodian has allowed another to mistreat or abuse the child without taking lawful means to stop such mistreatment or abuse and to prevent it from recurring
  • Who lacks proper parental care through the actions or omissions of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian
  • Whose environment is injurious to their welfare
  • Whose parent, guardian, or legal custodian fails or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical care, or other care necessary for their health, guidance, or well-being
  • Who is homeless, without proper care, or not domiciled with their parent, guardian, or legal custodian through no fault of their parent, guardian, or legal custodian

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code § 45.2001(a)(1)

The terms 'abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' include any of the following acts or omissions:

  • A child is subjected to sexual offenses, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, or indecent exposure.
  • A child is allowed, permitted, or encouraged to engage in prostitution.
  • A child is allowed, permitted, or encouraged to be the subject of obscene or pornographic photographing, filming, or depicting.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 45.2001(a)(1)

The terms 'abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' include mental injury.

Abandonment

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 45.2002

A report is required when the reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 45.2001(a)(1)

Responsible persons include the following:

  • A child's parent, legal guardian, or custodian
  • Any employee of a residential facility
  • Any staff person providing out-of-home care or under any other settings in which children are provided care
  • Any other person responsible for the child's health and welfare

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 45.2001(a)(1); 45.0103(20); 45.0104

Those investigating child abuse must consider accepted child-rearing practices of the culture in which the child participates.

Reasonable exercise of parental discipline is not considered abuse. 'Normal parental discipline' means all actions by parents, such as administration of blows by hand, strap, or light switch upon the buttocks, or any firm handling, scolding, or light taps that are insufficient to seriously bruise or produce medical injury or disability.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no child who, in good faith, is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denominations by a duly accredited practitioner shall, for that reason alone, be considered to have been neglected. Notwithstanding the above, the court may intervene to further protect the child's welfare if the child's life is threatened.