Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - New Hampshire

Date: May 2022

Physical Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

'Abused child' means any child who has been subjected to any of the following:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Intentional physical injury
  • Physical injury by other than accidental means
  • Human trafficking by any person
  • Female genital mutilation


Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

'Neglected child' means a child to whom the following applies:

  • Who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for their physical, mental, or emotional health, when it is established that their health has suffered or is very likely to suffer serious impairment, and the deprivation is not due primarily to the lack of financial means of the parents, guardian, or custodian
  • Whose parents, guardian, or custodian are unable to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child because of incarceration, hospitalization, or other physical or mental incapacity

'Serious impairment' means a substantial weakening or diminishment of a child's emotional, physical, or mental health or of a child's safety and general well-being. The following circumstances shall be considered in determining the likelihood that a child may suffer serious impairment:

  • The age and developmental level of the child
  • Any recognized mental, emotional, or physical disabilities
  • School attendance and performance
  • The child's illegal use of controlled substances or the child's contact with other persons involved in the illegal use or sale of controlled substances or the abuse of alcohol
  • Exposure to incidents of domestic or sexual violence
  • Any documented failure to thrive
  • Any history of frequent illness or injury
  • The condition of the child's place of residence
  • Assessments or evaluations of the child conducted by qualified professionals
  • Such other factors that may be determined to be appropriate or relevant

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

'Sexual abuse' means any of the following:

  • The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in or having a child assist any other person to engage in any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct
  • The rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children
  • Incest with children

With respect to the definition of sexual abuse, the term 'child' or 'children' means any individual who is younger than age 18.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

The term 'abused child' includes any child who has been psychologically injured so that the child exhibits symptoms of emotional problems generally recognized to result from consistent mistreatment or neglect.

'Psychological maltreatment' means pervasive and emotionally abusive behavior, including, but not limited to, patterns of threatening, berating, or demeaning behavior.


Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

'Abandoned' means the child has been left by their parent, guardian, or custodian without provision for their care, supervision, or financial support, although their parent, guardian, or custodian is financially able to provide such support.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:29

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

'A person responsible for a child's welfare' includes the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, as well as the person providing out-of-home care of the child, if that person is not the parent, guardian, or custodian. For purposes of this definition, 'out-of-home care' includes child daycare and any other settings in which children are given care outside of their homes.

The term 'parent' means mother, father, adoptive parent, or stepparent, but the term shall not include a parent whose parent-child relationship has been terminated by judicial decree or voluntary relinquishment. 'Household member' means any person living with the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child from time to time or on a regular basis who is involved occasionally or regularly with the care of the child.


Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

No child who is, in good faith, under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered to be a neglected child under this chapter.