Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Michigan

Date:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 722.622; 722.628(3)(c); 750.136b(1)

Effective November 1, 2022: 'Child abuse' means harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare that occurs through nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment by a parent, a legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare or by a teacher, a teacher's aide, a member of the clergy, or an individual aged 18 or older who is involved with a youth program.

'Confirmed serious abuse or neglect' means a confirmed case of mental or physical injury or neglect to a child that involves any of the following:

  • Battering, torture, or other serious physical harm
  • Loss or serious impairment of an organ or limb
  • Life-threatening injury
  • Murder or attempted murder
  • Serious mental harm

'Severe physical injury' means an injury to the child that requires medical treatment or hospitalization and that seriously impairs the child's health or physical well-being.

In criminal law: 'Physical harm' means any injury to a child's physical condition. 'Serious physical harm' means any physical injury to a child that seriously impairs the child's health or physical well-being, including, but not limited to, brain damage, a skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn or scald, or severe cut.

Neglect

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.622

'Child neglect' means harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by a parent, legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare that occurs through either of the following:

  • Negligent treatment, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, though financially able to do so, or by the failure to seek financial or other reasonable means to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care
  • Placing a child at an unreasonable risk to the child's health or welfare by failure to intervene to eliminate that risk when the parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for the child's health or welfare can do so and has, or should have, knowledge of the risk

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.622

Effective November 1, 2022: 'Confirmed sexual abuse' means a confirmed case that involves sexual penetration, sexual contact, attempted sexual penetration, or assault with intent to penetrate as those terms are defined in § 750.520a.

'Confirmed sexual exploitation' means a confirmed case that involves allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, or allowing, permitting, encouraging or engaging in the photographing, filming, or depicting of a child engaged in a sexual act, as defined in § 750.145c.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 722.622; 750.136b(1)

The term 'child abuse' includes mental injury.

In criminal law: 'Serious mental harm' means an injury to a child's mental condition or welfare that is not necessarily permanent but results in visibly demonstrable manifestations of a substantial disorder of thought or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.

Abandonment

Citation: Comp. Laws § 750.136b(1)

'Omission' means a willful failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary for a child's welfare or willful abandonment of a child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.623

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.622

A 'person responsible for the child's health or welfare' means a parent; legal guardian; person aged 18 or older who resides for any length of time in the same home as the child; nonparent adult; or an owner, operator, volunteer, or employee of one or more of the following:

  • A licensed or registered child care organization
  • A licensed or unlicensed adult foster care family home or adult foster care small group home
  • A court-operated facility

'Nonparent adult' means a person who is age 18 or older and who, regardless of the person's domicile, meets all the following criteria in relation to a child:

  • Has substantial and regular contact with the child
  • Has a close personal relationship with the child's parent or with a person responsible for the child's health or welfare
  • Is not the child's parent or a person otherwise related to the child by blood or affinity to the third degree

Exceptions

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 722.634; 750.136b(9)-(10)

A parent or guardian legitimately practicing their religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone, shall not be considered a negligent parent or guardian. This section shall not preclude a court from ordering the provision of medical services or nonmedical remedial services recognized by State law to a child when the child's health requires it, nor does it eliminate the responsibility of a person required to report child abuse or neglect.

In criminal law: This section does not prohibit a parent or guardian, or other person permitted by law or authorized by the parent or guardian, from taking steps to reasonably discipline a child, including the use of reasonable force.

It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant's conduct involving the child was a reasonable response to an act of domestic violence considering all the facts and circumstances known to the defendant at that time. The defendant has the burden of establishing the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.