Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Maine

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

'Abuse or neglect' means a threat to a child's health or welfare by physical, mental, or emotional injury or impairment; sexual abuse or exploitation; deprivation of essential needs; or lack of protection by a person responsible for the child.

'Jeopardy to health or welfare' or 'jeopardy' means serious abuse or neglect, as evidenced by serious harm or threat of serious harm.

'Serious harm' means serious injury. 'Serious injury' means serious physical injury or impairment.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

'Abuse or neglect' means a threat to a child's health or welfare by deprivation of essential needs or lack of protection by a person responsible for the child.

'Abuse or neglect' also means truancy, as defined by title 20-A, §§ 3272(2)(B-C) or 5051-A(1)(C-D), when truancy is the result of neglect by a person responsible for the child.

'Jeopardy to health or welfare' or 'jeopardy' means serious abuse or neglect as evidenced by the following:

  • Deprivation of adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, or care
  • Deprivation of necessary health care when the deprivation places the child in danger of serious harm
  • Abandonment of the child or absence of any person responsible for the child that creates a threat of serious harm
  • The end of voluntary placement, when the imminent return of the child to their custodian causes a threat of serious harm

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

'Abuse or neglect' means a threat to a child's health or welfare by sexual abuse or exploitation, including under title 17-A, §§ 282 (sexual exploitation of minor), 852 (aggravated sex trafficking), 853 (sex trafficking), and 855 (patronizing prostitution of a minor), by a person responsible for the child.

'Abuse or neglect' also means a threat to a child's health or welfare caused by child sex trafficking by any person, regardless of whether the person is responsible for the child. 'Child sex trafficking' means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a child for the purposes of a commercial sex act as defined in 22 U.S. Code, § 7102(4).

'Serious harm' includes sexual abuse or exploitation.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

The term 'abuse or neglect' includes a threat to a child's health or welfare by mental or emotional injury or impairment by a person responsible for the child.

'Serious harm' includes serious mental or emotional injury or impairment that now or in the future is likely to be evidenced by serious mental, behavioral, or personality disorder, including severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, untoward aggressive behavior, seriously delayed development, or similar serious dysfunctional behavior.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

'Abandonment' means any conduct on the part of the parent that shows an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims. The intent may be evidenced by any of the following:

  • Failure to communicate meaningfully or to maintain regular visitation with the child for a period of at least 6 months
  • Failure to participate in any plan or program designed to reunite the parent with the child
  • Deserting the child without affording means of identifying the child and their parent or custodian
  • Failure to respond to notice of child protective proceedings
  • Any other conduct indicating an intent to forgo parental duties or relinquish parental claims

'Jeopardy to health or welfare' or 'jeopardy' includes abandonment of the child or absence of any person responsible for the child that creates a threat of serious harm.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4011-A

A report is required when a mandatory reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected or that a suspicious child death has occurred.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4002

The term 'parent' means a natural or adoptive parent, unless parental rights have been terminated.

A 'person responsible for the child' means a person with responsibility for a child's health or welfare, whether in the child's home or another home or facility that, as part of its function, provides for the care of the child. This includes the child's custodian.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4010

A child shall not be considered abused or neglected, in jeopardy of health or welfare, or in danger of serious harm solely because treatment is by spiritual means by an accredited practitioner of a recognized religious organization.