Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - New York

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371

'Abused child' means a child younger than age 18 whose parent or other person legally responsible for their care does any of the following:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury by other than accidental means that causes or creates a substantial risk of death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ
  • Creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical injury to such child by other than accidental means that would be likely to cause death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ

Neglect

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371; Family Court Act § 1012

'Neglected child' means a child younger than age 18 whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of their parent or other person legally responsible for their care to exercise a minimum degree of care, as follows:

  • In supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical or surgical care, although financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so
  • In providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship
  • By unreasonably inflicting or allowing harm to be inflicted, or a substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment
  • By misusing drugs or alcoholic beverages to the extent that they lose self-control of their actions
  • By any other acts of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371; Family Court Act § 1012

The term 'abused child' includes a child younger than age 18 whose parent or other person legally responsible for their care commits, or allows to be committed, an act of sexual abuse against such child, as defined in penal law.

The term 'abused child' also includes a child younger than age 18 whose parent or other person legally responsible for their care does any of the following:

  • Commits or allows to be committed any sex offense against the child, as defined in article 130 of the penal law, including sexual misconduct, rape, and sexual abuse
  • Allows, permits, or encourages the child to engage in child prostitution, as described in §§ 230.25, 230.30, and 230.32 of the penal law
  • Commits an act of incest, as described §§ 255.25, 255.26, and 255.27 of the penal law
  • Allows the child to engage in acts or conduct to produce, promote, or possess child pornography, as described in article 263 of the penal law
  • Permits or encourages the child to engage in any act or commits or allows to be committed against the child any offense that would render the child either a victim of sex trafficking or a victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 7102

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Family Court Act § 1012

'Impairment of emotional health' and 'impairment of mental or emotional condition' includes a state of substantially diminished psychological or intellectual functioning in relation to, but not limited to, such factors as failure to thrive, control of aggressive or self-destructive impulses, ability to think and reason, acting out, or misbehavior, including ungovernability or habitual truancy, provided, however, that such impairment must be clearly attributable to the unwillingness or inability of the respondent to exercise a minimum degree of care toward the child.

Abandonment

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 384-b

A child is 'abandoned' by their parent if such parent evinces an intent to forgo their parental rights and obligations as manifested by their failure to visit the child and communicate with the child or agency, although able to do so and not prevented or discouraged from doing so by the agency. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, such ability to visit and communicate shall be presumed.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 413

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is an abused or maltreated child.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371; Family Court Act § 1012

Responsible persons include the child's parent and other persons legally responsible for the child's care.

The term 'person legally responsible' includes the child's custodian, guardian, and any other person responsible for the child's care at the relevant time. A custodian may include a person continually or at regular intervals found in the same household as the child when the conduct of such person causes or contributes to the abuse or neglect of the child.

Exceptions

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371; Family Court Act § 1012

When the parent is voluntarily and regularly participating in a rehabilitative program, evidence that the parent has repeatedly misused a drug or drugs or alcoholic beverages to the extent that they lose self-control of their actions shall not establish that the child is a neglected child in the absence of evidence establishing that the child's physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired.