Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Montana

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'Physical abuse' means an intentional act, omission, or gross negligence resulting in substantial skin bruising, internal bleeding, substantial injury to skin, subdural hematoma, burns, bone fractures, extreme pain, permanent or temporary disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ or function, or death.

'Child abuse or neglect' means any of the following:

  • Actual physical or psychological harm to a child
  • Substantial risk of physical or psychological harm to a child
  • Abandonment

The term includes the following:

  • Actual physical or psychological harm to a child, or substantial risk of physical or psychological harm to a child, by the acts or omissions of a person responsible for the child's welfare
  • Exposing a child to the criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, the criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs, or the operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory
  • Any form of child sex trafficking or human trafficking

'Physical or psychological harm to a child' means the harm that occurs whenever the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical abuse, physical neglect, or psychological abuse or neglect.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'Physical neglect' means any of the following:

  • Failure to provide basic necessities, including, but not limited to, appropriate and adequate nutrition, protective shelter from the elements, and appropriate clothing related to weather conditions
  • Failure to provide cleanliness and general supervision
  • Exposing or allowing the child to be exposed to an unreasonable physical or psychological risk

'Physical or psychological harm to a child' means the harm that occurs whenever the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare does any of the following:

  • Causes malnutrition, failure to thrive, or otherwise fails to supply the child with adequate food or fails to supply clothing, shelter, education, or adequate health care, though financially able to do so or when offered financial or other reasonable means to do so
  • Exposes the child, or allows the child to be exposed, to an unreasonable risk to the child's health or welfare by failing to intervene or eliminate the risk

'Withholding of medically indicated treatment' means failure to respond to an infant's life-threatening conditions by not providing treatment, including appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication, which in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment is most likely to be effective in ameliorating or correcting the conditions.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'Sexual abuse' means the commission of sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviate sexual conduct, ritual abuse, or incest.

'Sexual exploitation' means any of the following:

  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in a prostitution offense
  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging sexual abuse of children
  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging sexual servitude as described in § 45-5-704 or 45-5-705

'Physical or psychological harm to a child' means the harm that occurs whenever a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare commits or allows sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'Psychological abuse or neglect' means severe maltreatment through acts or omissions that are injurious to the child's emotional, intellectual, or psychological capacity to function, including acts of violence against another person residing in the child's home.

'Physical or psychological harm to a child' means the harm that occurs whenever a parent or other person responsible for a child's welfare induces or attempts to induce the child to give untrue testimony that the child or another child was abused or neglected by a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'Abandon,' 'abandoned,' and 'abandonment' mean any of the following:

  • Leaving a child under circumstances that make reasonable the belief that the parent does not intend to resume care of the child in the future
  • Willfully surrendering physical custody for a period of 6 months and during that period not manifesting to the child and the person having physical custody of the child a firm intention to resume physical custody or to make permanent legal arrangements for the care of the child
  • That the parent is unknown and has been unknown for a period of 90 days and that reasonable efforts to identify and locate the parent have failed
  • The voluntary surrender, as defined in § 40-6-402, by a parent of a newborn who is no more than 30 days old, to an emergency services provider

'Physical or psychological harm to a child' means the harm that occurs when the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare abandons the child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-201

A report is required when a mandatory reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone regardless of whether the person suspected of causing the abuse or neglect is a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

'A person responsible for a child's welfare' includes any of the following:

  • The child's parent, guardian, foster parent, or an adult who resides in the same home as the child
  • A person providing care in a daycare facility
  • An employee of a public or private residential institution, facility, home, or agency
  • Any other person responsible for the child's welfare in a residential setting

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102

The term 'abandoned' does not include the voluntary surrender of the child to the department solely because of parental inability to access publicly funded services.

The term 'child abuse' does not include self-defense, defense of others, or action taken to prevent the child from self-harm.

This chapter may not be construed to require or justify a finding of child abuse or neglect for the sole reason that a parent or legal guardian, because of religious beliefs, does not provide adequate health care for a child. This chapter may not be construed to limit the administrative or judicial authority of the State to ensure that medical care is provided to the child when there is imminent substantial risk of serious harm to the child.

The term 'withholding medically indicated treatment' does not include the failure to provide treatment, other than appropriate nutrition, hydration, or medication to an infant when, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment, the following apply:

  • The infant is chronically and irreversibly comatose.
  • The provision of treatment would merely prolong dying, not be effective in ameliorating or correcting all the infant's life-threatening conditions, or otherwise be futile in terms of the survival of the infant.
  • The provision of treatment would be virtually futile in terms of the survival of the infant, and the treatment itself under the circumstances would be inhumane.