Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Colorado

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-1-103

'Abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' means an act or omission that threatens the health or welfare of a child in one of the following categories:

  • Skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, failure to thrive, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling, or death, and any of the following applies:
    • The condition or death is not justifiably explained.
    • The history given concerning the condition is at variance with the degree or type of such condition or death.
    • The circumstances indicate that the condition may not be the result of an accidental occurrence.
  • A controlled substance is manufactured in the presence of a child, on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides.
  • A child is born affected by alcohol or substance exposure, except when taken as prescribed or recommended and monitored by a licensed health-care provider, and the newborn child's health or welfare is threatened by substance use.
  • A child is subjected to human trafficking of a minor for involuntary servitude, as described in § 18-3-503, or for sexual servitude, as described in § 18-3-504.

Neglect

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-103; 19-3-102

The term 'child abuse or neglect' includes any case in which a child is in need of services because the child's parent has failed to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision that a prudent parent would take.

A child is 'neglected' or 'dependent' if any of the following are true:

  • The parent, guardian, or legal custodian has subjected the child to mistreatment or abuse or has allowed another to mistreat or abuse the child without taking lawful means to stop such mistreatment or abuse and prevent it from recurring.
  • The child lacks proper parental care through the actions or omissions of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
  • The child's environment is injurious to their welfare.
  • The parent, guardian, or legal custodian fails or refuses to provide the child with proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical care, or any other necessary care.
  • The child is homeless, without proper care, or not domiciled with their parent, guardian, or legal custodian through no fault of such parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
  • The child has run away from home or is otherwise beyond the control of their parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
  • The child is born affected by alcohol or substance exposure, except when taken as prescribed or recommended and monitored by a licensed health-care provider, and the newborn child's health or welfare is threatened by substance use.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-103; 16-22-102

'Abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' means an act or omission in which a child is subjected to unlawful sexual behavior, as defined in § 16-22-102(9).

'Commercial sexual exploitation of children' involves crimes of a sexual nature committed against juvenile victims for financial or other economic reasons.

'Unlawful sexual behavior' means any of the following offenses or criminal attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the following offenses:

  • Sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, sexual assault on a child, or sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust
  • Enticement of a child
  • Incest or aggravated incest
  • Human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude, as described in § 18-3-504(2)
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Procurement of a child for sexual exploitation
  • Indecent exposure
  • Soliciting for child prostitution
  • Pandering or pimping of a child
  • Keeping a place of child prostitution
  • Inducement of child prostitution
  • Patronizing a prostituted child
  • Promotion of obscenity to a minor
  • Internet luring of a child
  • Internet sexual exploitation of a child

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-1-103

The terms 'abuse' or 'child abuse or neglect' include any case in which a child is subjected to emotional abuse. 'Emotional abuse' means an identifiable and substantial impairment or a substantial risk of impairment of the child's intellectual or psychological functioning or development.

Abandonment

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-3-102

A child is 'neglected' or 'dependent' if a parent, guardian, or legal custodian has abandoned the child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-3-304

A report is required when a mandatory 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: Rev. Stat. § 19-1-103

'Intrafamilial abuse' means any case of abuse that occurs within a family context by a child's parent, stepparent, guardian, legal custodian, a relative, or a spousal equivalent, or by any other person who resides in the child's home or who is regularly in the child's home for the purpose of exercising authority over or care for the child. 'Intrafamilial abuse' shall not include abuse by a person who is regularly in the child's home for the purpose of rendering care for the child if that person is paid for rendering care and is not related to the child.

'Responsible person' means a child's parent, legal guardian, custodian, or any other person responsible for the child's health and welfare.

'Spousal equivalent' means a person who is in a family-type living arrangement with a parent and who would be a stepparent if married to that parent.

Exceptions

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-103; 19-3-103

Those investigating cases of child abuse shall take into account child-rearing practices of the culture in which the child participates, including the work-related practices of agricultural communities.

The reasonable exercise of parental discipline is not considered abuse.

A child is not neglected when allowed to participate in independent activities that a reasonable and prudent parent would consider safe given the child's maturity, condition, and abilities, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

  • Traveling to and from school, including walking, running, bicycling, or other similar mode of travel
  • Traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities
  • Engaging in outdoor play
  • Remaining in a home or other location that a reasonable and prudent parent would consider safe for the child

No child who, in lieu of medical treatment, is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with a recognized method of religious healing shall, for that reason only, be considered neglected. The religious rights of the parent shall not limit the access of a child to medical care in a life-threatening situation.

The court may order a medical evaluation of the child to determine whether the child is in a life-threatening situation or that the child's condition will result in serious disability. Based on this evaluation, the court may order that medical treatment be provided for the child. A child whose parent inhibits or interferes with the provision of medical treatment in accordance with a court order shall be considered to have been neglected or dependent.

 

Refusing an immunization on the grounds of medical, religious, or personal belief considerations by itself does not constitute child abuse or neglect by a parent.