Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Georgia

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

'Child abuse' means any of the following:

 

  • Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of the child by other than accidental means
  • Neglect of a child by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of the child
  • Emotional abuse of a child
  • Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child
  • Prenatal abuse of a child by a parent
  • An act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to the child's physical, mental, or emotional health
  • Trafficking a child for labor servitude

'Labor servitude' means work or service of economic or financial value that is performed or provided by another individual and is induced or obtained by coercion or deception.

'Prenatal abuse' means exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or the unlawful use of any controlled substance that results in either of the following:

  • Symptoms of withdrawal in a newborn or the presence of a controlled substance or a metabolite thereof in a newborn's body, blood, urine, or meconium that is not the result of medical treatment
  • Medically diagnosed and harmful effects in a newborn's physical appearance or functioning

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

'Neglect' means any of the following:

  • The failure to provide proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for a child's physical, mental, or emotional health or morals
  • The failure to provide a child with adequate supervision necessary for the child's well-being
  • The abandonment of a child by their parent, guardian, or legal custodian

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

'Sexual abuse' occurs when a person employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a minor who is not that person's spouse to engage in any act that involves the following:

  • Sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex
  • Bestiality or masturbation
  • Lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person
  • Flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude
  • Condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of a person who is nude
  • Physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification with any person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, or buttocks or with a female's clothed or unclothed breasts
  • Defecation or urination for the purpose of sexual stimulation
  • Penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object except when done as part of a recognized medical procedure
  • Trafficking an individual for sexual servitude, as described by § 16-5-46(c)

'Sexual exploitation' means conduct by any person who allows, permits, encourages, or requires a child to engage in prostitution or sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual or print medium depicting such conduct.

A person commits the offense of trafficking an individual for sexual servitude when that person knowingly does any of the following:

  • Subjects an individual to or maintains an individual in sexual servitude
  • Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means an individual for the purpose of sexual servitude
  • Solicits or patronizes by any means an individual to perform sexually explicit conduct on behalf of such person when such individual is the subject of sexual servitude

Sexual abuse shall include consensual sex acts when the sex acts are between minors if any individual is younger than age 14. However, it shall not include consensual sex acts when the sex acts are between a minor and an adult who is no more than 4 years older than the minor. This provision shall not be deemed or construed to repeal any law concerning the age or capacity to consent.

'Sexual exploitation' means conduct by any person who allows, permits, encourages, or requires a child to engage in either of the following:

  • Sexual servitude, as defined in § 16-5-46
  • Sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual or print medium depicting such conduct

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

'Emotional abuse' means acts or omissions by a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the care of a child that cause any mental injury to the child's intellectual or psychological capacity as evidenced by an observable and significant impairment in the child's ability to function within a child's normal range of performance and behavior or that create a substantial risk of impairment.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

'Abandonment' means any conduct on the part of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian showing an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims. Intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims may be evidenced by any of the following:

  • Failure for at least 6 months to communicate meaningfully with a child
  • Failure for at least 6 months to maintain regular visitation with a child
  • Leaving a child with another person without provision for their support for at least 6 months
  • Failure for at least 6 months to participate in any court-ordered plan or program designed to reunite a child with their parent, guardian, or legal custodian
  • Leaving a child without affording means of identifying the child or their parent, guardian, or legal custodian, and either of the following apply:
    • The identity of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian cannot be ascertained despite diligent searching.
    • A parent, guardian, or legal custodian has not come forward to claim the child within 3 months following the finding of the child.
  • Being absent from the home of their child for a period of time that creates a substantial risk of serious harm to a child left in the home
  • Failure to respond for at least 6 months to notice of child protective proceedings
  • Any other conduct indicating an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

The term 'responsible person' includes the parent, guardian, or legal custodian.

'Person responsible for the care of a child' includes any of the following:

  • An adult member of a child's household
  • A person exercising supervision over a child for any part of the 24-hour day
  • Any adult who, based on their relationship to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian or a member of a child's household, has access to the child

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-7-5(b)

Physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child.

No child who, in good faith, is being treated solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered an abused child.

Sexual abuse does not include consensual sex acts between persons of the opposite sex who are minors or a minor and adult who is no more than 5 years older than the minor.