Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Arkansas

Date:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

'Abuse' means any of the following acts or omissions:

  • Extreme or repeated cruelty to a child
  • Engaging in conduct creating a realistic and serious threat of death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily organ
  • Any injury that is inconsistent with the history given
  • Any nonaccidental physical injury
  • Any of the following intentional or knowing acts:
    • Throwing, kicking, burning, biting, or cutting a child
    • Striking a child with a closed fist
    • Shaking a child
    • Striking a child on the face or head
  • Any of the following acts, with or without physical injury:
    • Striking a child aged 6 or younger on the face or head
    • Shaking a child aged 3 or younger
    • Interfering with a child's breathing
    • Pinching, biting, or striking a child in the genital area
    • Tying a child to a fixed or heavy object or binding or tying a child's limbs together
    • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a poisonous or noxious substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions
    • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to alter the mood of the child, including, but not limited to, marijuana, alcohol, a narcotic, or an over-the-counter drug if a person purposely administers an overdose to a child
    • Exposing a child to a chemical that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions, including, but not limited to, a chemical used or generated during the manufacture of methamphetamine
    • Subjecting a child to Munchausen syndrome by proxy or a factitious illness by proxy if the incident is confirmed by medical personnel
  • Recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a child for labor or services, through force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery
  • Female genital mutilation

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

'Neglect' means those acts or omissions that constitute the following:

  • Failure or refusal to prevent the abuse of the child when the person knows or should know the child is or has been abused
  • Failure or refusal to provide the food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment necessary for the child's well-being
  • Failure to take reasonable action to protect the child from abandonment, abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, or parental unfitness when the existence of the condition was known or should have been known
  • Failure or inability to provide for the essential and necessary physical, mental, or emotional needs of the child, including the failure to provide a shelter that does not pose a risk to the health or safety of the child
  • Failure to provide for the child's care and maintenance, proper or necessary support, or medical, surgical, or other necessary care
  • Failure, although able, to assume responsibility for the care and custody of the child or to participate in a plan to assume such responsibility
  • Failure to appropriately supervise the child that results in the child's being left alone at an inappropriate age or in inappropriate circumstances creating a dangerous situation or a situation that puts the child at risk of harm
  • Failure to ensure a child between age 6 and 17 is enrolled in school or is being legally home schooled, or the child is habitually absent from school as a result of an act or omission by the child's parent

Neglect also shall include the following:

  • Causing a child to be born with an illegal substance present in the child's bodily fluids or bodily substances as a result of the pregnant mother's knowingly using an illegal substance before the child's birth
  • The presence of an illegal substance at the time of the birth of a child in the mother's bodily fluids or bodily substances as a result of the pregnant mother's knowingly using an illegal substance before the child's birth

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 12-18-103; 12-18-1201

'Sexual abuse' means any of the following:

  • By a person aged 14 or older to a person younger than age 18:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion
    • Indecent exposure
    • Forcing the watching of pornography or live sexual activity
  • By a person aged 18 or older to a person not their spouse who is younger than age 15, or by a person aged 20 or older to person not their spouse aged 16 or younger:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Solicitation of sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
  • By a caregiver to a person younger than age 18:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Forcing or encouraging the watching of pornography
    • Forcing, permitting, or encouraging the watching of live sexual activity
    • Forcing the listening to a phone sex line
    • An act of voyeurism
    • Solicitation of sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
  • By a person aged 18 or older to a person who is younger than age 18, the recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a child for the purpose of a commercial sex act

'Sexual exploitation' means any of the following by a person aged 18 or older to a child who is not their spouse or by a caregiver of a child:

  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging participation or depiction of the child in prostitution, obscene photography, or obscene filming
  • Obscenely depicting, obscenely posing, or obscenely posturing the child for any use or purpose

'Sexually exploited child' means a person younger than age 18 who has been subject to sexual exploitation because the person:

  • Is a victim of trafficking of persons under § 5-18-103
  • Is a victim of child sex trafficking under 18 U.S.C. § 1591
  • Engages in an act of prostitution or sexual solicitation

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

The term 'abuse' includes acts or omissions that result in injury to a child's intellectual, emotional, or psychological development, as evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of the child's ability to function within the child's normal range of performance and behavior.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

'Abandonment' means any of the following:

  • The failure of a parent to provide reasonable support
  • The failure of a parent to maintain regular contact with a child through statement or contact when the failure is accompanied by an intention on the part of the parent to permit the condition to continue for an indefinite period in the future
  • The failure of a parent to support or maintain regular contact with a child without just cause
  • An articulated intent to forego parental responsibility

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-402

A mandatory reporter shall immediately notify the child abuse hotline if either of the following applies:

  • They have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to child maltreatment, has died as a result of child maltreatment, or died suddenly and unexpectedly.
  • They observe a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

A responsible person includes the following:

  • A parent, guardian, custodian, or foster parent
  • A person aged 18 or older living in the home with a child, whether related or unrelated to the child
  • Any person who is entrusted with the child's care by a parent, guardian, custodian, or foster parent, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • An agent or employee of a public or private residential home, child care facility, or public or private school
    • A significant other of the child's parent
    • Any person legally responsible for the child's welfare

The term 'significant other' means a person with whom the parent shares a household or who has a relationship with the parent that results in the person acting in loco parentis with respect to the parent's child or children, regardless of living arrangements.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103

Abandonment does not include acts or omissions of a parent toward a married minor.

Abuse does not include any of the following:

  • Physical discipline of a child when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child
  • When a child suffers transient pain or minor temporary marks as the result of an appropriate restraint if the following applies:
    • The person exercising the restraint is an employee of a licensed child welfare agency acting in their official capacity while on duty.
    • The agency has policy and procedures regarding restraints.
    • No other alternative exists to control the child except for a restraint.
    • The child is in danger or is hurting himself or herself or others.
    • The person exercising the restraint has been trained in properly restraining children, deescalation, and conflict resolution techniques.
    • The restraint is for a reasonable period of time.
    • The restraint is in conformity with training and agency policy and procedures.

Reasonable and moderate physical discipline inflicted by a parent or guardian does not include any act that is likely to cause and that does cause injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks. The age, size, and condition of the child; the location of the injury; and the frequency or recurrence of injuries shall be considered when determining whether the physical discipline is reasonable or moderate.

It is not considered neglect when the failure to provide appropriate care is caused primarily by the financial inability of the person legally responsible, and no services for relief have been offered.