Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Minnesota

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260E.03

'Physical abuse' means any physical injury, mental injury, or threatened injury inflicted by a person responsible for the child's care on a child by other than accidental means; physical or mental injury that cannot reasonably be explained by the child's history of injuries; or any aversive and deprivation procedures or regulated interventions that have not been authorized by law. Actions that are not reasonable and moderate include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Throwing, kicking, burning, biting, or cutting a child
  • Striking a child with a closed fist
  • Shaking a child under age 3
  • Striking or other actions that result in any nonaccidental injury to a child under age 18 months
  • Unreasonable interference with a child's breathing
  • Threatening a child with a weapon
  • Striking a child under age 1 on the face or head
  • Striking a child who is at least age 1 but under age 4 on the face or head, which results in an injury
  • Purposely giving a child poison, alcohol, or dangerous, harmful, or controlled substances that were not prescribed for the child by a practitioner to control or punish the child; giving the child substances that substantially affect the child's behavior, motor coordination, or judgment or that result in sickness or internal injury; or subjecting the child to medical procedures that would be unnecessary if the child were not exposed to the substances
  • Unreasonable physical confinement or restraint not permitted by law, including, but not limited to, tying, caging, or chaining
  • In a school facility or school zone, an act by a person responsible for the child's care that is a violation under § 121A.58 (prohibiting corporal punishment)

'Substantial child endangerment' means that a person responsible for a child's care, by act or omission, commits or attempts to commit an act against a child under their care that constitutes any of the following:

  • Egregious harm
  • Murder in the first, second, or third degree or manslaughter in the first or second degree
  • Assault in the first, second, or third degree
  • Malicious punishment or neglect or endangerment of a child
  • Parental behavior, status, or condition that mandates that the county attorney file a termination of parental rights petition under § 260C.503, subd. 2

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260E.03

'Neglect' means the commission or omission of any of the acts specified below by other than accidental means:

  • Failure by a person responsible for a child's care to supply a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, health, medical, or other care required for the child's physical or mental health when reasonably able to do so
  • Failure to protect a child from conditions or actions that seriously endanger the child's physical or mental health when reasonably able to do so, including a growth delay (which may be referred to as failure to thrive) that has been diagnosed by a physician and is due to parental neglect
  • Failure to provide necessary supervision or child care arrangements appropriate for a child after considering such factors as the child's age, mental ability, physical condition, length of absence, or environment when the child is unable to care for their own basic needs or safety or the basic needs or safety of another child in their care
  • Failure to ensure that the child is educated as required by State law, which does not include a parent's refusal to provide their child with sympathomimetic medications
  • Prenatal exposure to a controlled substance used by the mother for a nonmedical purpose, as evidenced by withdrawal symptoms in the child at birth, results of a toxicology test performed on the mother at delivery or the child at birth, or medical effects or developmental delays during the child's first year of life that medically indicate prenatal exposure to a controlled substance, or the presence of a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • 'Medical neglect' that includes, but is not limited to, withholding medically indicated treatment from a disabled infant with a life-threatening condition
  • Chronic and severe use of alcohol or a controlled substance by a parent or person responsible for the care of the child that adversely affects the child's basic needs and safety

'Substantial child endangerment' means a person responsible for a child's care, by act or omission, commits or attempts to commit an act against a child under their care that constitutes any of the following:

  • Abandonment under § 260C.301, subd. 2
  • Neglect that substantially endangers the child's physical or mental health, including a growth delay (which may be referred to as failure to thrive) that has been diagnosed by a physician and is due to parental neglect

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260E.03; 260C.007, Subd. 31

'Sexual abuse' means the subjection of a child by a person responsible for the child's care, by a person who has a significant relationship to the child, or by a person in a current or recent position of authority to any act that constitutes a violation of any of the following:

  • Criminal sexual conduct
  • Solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct
  • Communication of sexually explicit materials to children
  • Any act involving a child that constitutes a violation of prostitution offenses
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Threatened sexual abuse, which includes the status of a parent or household member who has committed a violation that requires registration as a predatory offender

'Substantial child endangerment' means that a person responsible for a child's care, by act or omission, commits or attempts to commit an act against a child under their care that constitutes any of the following:

  • Solicitation, inducement, and promotion of prostitution under § 609.322
  • Criminal sexual conduct under §§ 609.342 to 609.3451
  • Solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct under § 609.352
  • Use of a minor in sexual performance under § 617.246

'Sexually exploited youth' means an individual to whom any of the following apply:

  • Is alleged to have engaged in conduct that would, if committed by an adult, violate any Federal, State, or local law relating to being hired, offering to be hired, or agreeing to be hired by another individual to engage in sexual penetration or sexual conduct
  • Is a victim of the crime of criminal sexual conduct, criminal sexual predatory conduct, use of minors in sexual performances, or possession of child pornography
  • Is a victim of the Federal offenses of child pornography, child sex trafficking, or commercial sexual exploitation
  • Is a sex trafficking victim

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260C.007, Subd. 15; 260E.03

'Emotional maltreatment' means the consistent, deliberate infliction of mental harm on a child by a person responsible for the child's care that has an observable, sustained, and adverse effect on the child's physical, mental, or emotional development.

'Mental injury' means an injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by an observable or substantial impairment in the child's ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior with due regard to the child's culture.

'Neglect' includes emotional harm from a pattern of behavior that contributes to impaired emotional functioning of the child that may be demonstrated by a substantial and observable effect in the child's behavior, emotional response, or cognition that is not within the normal range for the child's age and stage of development, with due regard to the child's culture.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260C.007, Subd. 6; 260C.301, Subd. 2

The term 'child in need of protection or services' means a child who needs protection or services because they are abandoned or without a parent, guardian, or custodian.

Abandonment is presumed when either of the following applies:

  • The parent has had no contact with the child on a regular basis and has not demonstrated consistent interest in the child's well-being for 6 months and the social services agency has made reasonable efforts to facilitate contact, unless the parent establishes that an extreme financial or physical hardship or treatment for mental disability or chemical dependency or other good cause prevented the parent from contacting the child.
  • The child is an infant under age 2 and has been deserted by the parent under circumstances that show an intent not to return to care for the child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260E.06; 260E.03

A report is required when a mandatory reporter knows or has reason to believe a child is being maltreated or has been maltreated within the preceding 3 years. 'Maltreatment' includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, egregious harm, substantial child endangerment, threatened injury, mental injury, and maltreatment of a child in a facility.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260E.03; 260C.007, Subd. 17

'Person responsible for the child's care' means the following:

  • An individual functioning within the family unit and having responsibilities for the care of the child, such as a parent, guardian, or other person having similar care responsibilities
  • An individual functioning outside the family unit and having responsibilities for the care of the child, such as a teacher, school administrator, other school employees or agents, or other lawful custodian of a child having either full-time or short-term care responsibilities including, but not limited to, daycare, babysitting (paid or unpaid), counseling, teaching, and coaching

'Family or household members' means spouses, former spouses, parents and children, persons related by blood, persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260E.03; 260E.05; 260E.06

A child is not considered neglected solely because the child's parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's care in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means or prayer for treatment or care of disease or remedial care of the child in lieu of medical care. A parent, guardian, caregiver, or a mandatory reporter has a duty to report if a lack of medical care may cause serious danger to the child's health.

Persons who are not otherwise legally responsible for providing a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care do not have a duty to provide that care.

Persons who conduct assessments or investigations under this section shall consider accepted child-rearing practices of the culture in which a child participates and accepted teacher discipline practices that are not injurious to the child's health, welfare, and safety.

Abuse does not include reasonable and moderate physical discipline of a child administered by a parent or legal guardian that does not result in an injury.

Abuse does not include the use of reasonable force by a teacher, principal, or school employee, as allowed by § 121A.582.

Emotional maltreatment does not include reasonable training or discipline administered by the person responsible for the child's care or the reasonable exercise of authority by that person.