Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Maryland

Date:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Abuse' means either of the following:

  • The physical or mental injury of a child under circumstances that indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed by any of the following:
    • A parent
    • A household member or family member
    • A person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child
    • A person who has responsibility for supervision of the child
    • A person who, because of the person's position or occupation, exercises authority over the child
  • Sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not

Neglect

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Neglect' means leaving a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention to a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child under circumstances that indicate either of the following:

  • That the child's health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm
  • Mental injury to the child or a substantial risk of mental injury

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Sex trafficking' means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a child for the purpose of a commercial sex act.

'Sexual abuse' means any act that involves the following:

  • Sexual molestation or exploitation of a child by any of the following:
    • A parent
    • A household member or family member
    • A person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child
    • A person who has responsibility for supervision of the child
    • A person who, because of the person's position or occupation, exercises authority over the child
  • Sex trafficking of a child by any individual

'Sexual molestation or exploitation' includes any of the following:

  • Allowing or encouraging a child to engage in any of the following:
    • Obscene photography, films, poses, or similar activity
    • Pornographic photography, films, poses, or similar activity
    • Prostitution
  • Incest
  • Rape
  • A sexual offense in any degree
  • Sodomy
  • Unnatural or perverted sexual practices

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Mental injury' means the observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of a child's mental or psychological ability to function that was caused by an intentional act or series of acts, regardless of whether there was an intent to harm the child.

Abandonment

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-704

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Responsible person' includes any of the following:

  • A parent
  • A household member or family member
  • A person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child
  • A person who has responsibility for supervision of the child
  • A person who, because of the person's position or occupation, exercises authority over the child

The term 'family member' means a relative of a child by blood, adoption, or marriage. 'Household member' means a person who lives with or is a regular presence in a home of a child at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect.

Exceptions

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-701

'Abuse' does not include the physical injury of a child by accidental means.