Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Kentucky

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

'Abused or neglected child' means a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when their parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision does either of the following:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or emotional injury by other than accidental means
  • Creates or allows to be created a risk of physical or emotional injury to the child by other than accidental means
  • Commits or allows female genital mutilation

'Physical injury' means substantial physical pain or any impairment of physical condition.

'Serious physical injury' means physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious and prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Neglect

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

The term 'abused or neglected child' includes a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when their parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision does any of the following:

  • Engages in a pattern of conduct that renders the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child, including, but not limited to, parental incapacity due to a substance use disorder
  • Continuously or repeatedly fails or refuses to provide essential parental care and protection for the child, considering the age of the child
  • Does not provide the child with adequate care, supervision, food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care necessary for the child's well-being when financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so
  • Fails to make sufficient progress toward identified goals as set forth in the court-approved case plan to allow for the safe return of the child to the parent that results in the child remaining committed to the cabinet and remaining in foster care for 15 cumulative months out 48 months

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

The term 'abused or neglected child' includes a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when either of the following is true:

  • Their parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision:
    • Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution upon the child
    • Creates or allows to be created a risk that an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution will be committed upon the child
  • A person aged 21 or older commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution upon a child younger than age 16.

'Sexual abuse' includes, but is not necessarily limited to, any contacts or interactions in which the parent, guardian, person in a position of authority or special trust, or other person having custodial control or supervision of the child or responsibility for their welfare, uses or allows, permits, or encourages the use of the child for the purposes of sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person.

'Sexual exploitation' includes, but is not limited to, allowing, permitting, or encouraging the child to engage in prostitution or an act of obscene or pornographic photographing, filming, or depicting of a child.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

'Emotional injury' means an injury to the mental or psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by a substantial and observable impairment in the child's ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior with due regard to their age, development, culture, and environment, as testified to by a qualified mental health professional.

Abandonment

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

The term 'abused or neglected child' includes a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when their parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision abandons the child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.030

A report is required when any person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is dependent, neglected, or abused. In addition, a report must be made when any person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is a victim of human trafficking, as defined in § 529.010.

The requirement to report suspected human trafficking shall apply regardless of whether the person believed to have caused the human trafficking of the child is a parent, guardian, fictive kin, person in a position of authority, person in a position of special trust, or person exercising custodial control or supervision.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 600.020; 620.030

Persons responsible for the child include the following:

  • A birth or adoptive parent, guardian, or fictive kin
  • A person in a position of authority or special trust
  • A person exercising custodial control and supervision

Exceptions

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 600.020

A parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child who is legitimately practicing their religious beliefs shall not be considered a negligent parent solely because of failure to provide specified medical treatment for a child for that reason alone. This exception shall not preclude a court from ordering necessary medical services for a child.