Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Puerto Rico

Date:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444

'Abuse' means any intentional act or omission by the father, mother, or other person in charge of the minor of such a nature that it causes or puts a minor at risk of suffering damage or harm to their health or physical, mental, and/or emotional integrity, including sexual abuse. Abuse also shall mean any of the following:

  • Allowing another person to cause or to put the minor at risk of suffering damage or harm to their health or physical, mental, and/or emotional integrity
  • Willfully abandoning a minor
  • Allowing the father, mother, or other person in charge of the well-being of the minor to exploit them
  • Allowing another person to exploit the minor by forcing or allowing the minor to perform any act, including, but not limited to, obscene acts for profit or to receive any other benefit, or to incur in any conduct that, if criminally prosecuted, would constitute a crime against the health or physical, mental, or emotional integrity of the minor, including sexual abuse of the minor

Minors will also be considered victims of abuse if the father, mother, or person responsible for the minor has engaged in acts that constitute domestic violence in the presence of minors.

'Physical harm' means any nonaccidental trauma, injury, or condition, including inadequate nourishment that, if left unattended, could result in death, disfigurement, illness, or temporary or permanent disability of any part or function of the body, including inadequate nourishment. The trauma, injury, or condition may also be the result of a single episode or several episodes.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444; Tit. 31, § 634a(3)

'Neglect' means a type of abuse that consists of failing to perform the duties or to exercise the capacity to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, or health care to a minor; failing to exercise supervision; or failing to visit the minor or to remain in contact or frequent communication with the minor.

It is also considered neglect when the parent fails to comply with the duties or exercise the powers provided in title 31, § 601(1). These duties include, but are not limited to, the duty of having the minor in their company according to law; of supervising their education and development; and of adequately providing sustenance, clothing, shelter, education, or health care according to their wealth or with the means provided by the Commonwealth or any natural or juridical person. Health care includes any treatment or preventive measure required to attend to or prevent any condition involving the physical, mental, or emotional health of the minor.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444

The term 'abuse' also means to engage in obscene behavior and/or use the minor to carry out obscene acts.

'Sexual abuse' means engaging in sexual conduct in the presence of a child and/or using the child, voluntarily or otherwise, to engage in sexual conduct aimed at satisfying lewdness or any other act that, if criminally prosecuted, would constitute any of the following crimes: sexual assault, lewd acts, indecent exposure, or indecent proposals or remitting, transporting, selling, distributing, publishing, exhibiting, or possessing obscene materials and obscene shows.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444

'Mental or emotional harm' means the impairment of the intellectual or emotional capacity of a minor, given what is considered normal for their age or cultural environment. Moreover, emotional harm is deemed to exist when there is evidence that the minor recurrently manifests or exhibits behaviors such as fear, feelings of abandonment or hopelessness, frustration and failure, anxiety, insecurity, withdrawal, regressive behavior, or aggressive behavior toward themself or toward others, or any other similar behavior.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444

'Abandonment' means willful dereliction of or being remiss in the responsibilities that the father, mother, or other person in charge of the minor have, considering the minor's age and need for adult care. The intention to abandon can be evidenced by, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • A lack of communication with the minor for a period of at least 3 months
  • A lack of participation in a plan or program designed to reunite the minor with the father, mother, or other person in charge of the well-being of the minor
  • A failure to respond to notices of hearings for protection of the minor
  • When the minor is found in circumstances that make it impossible to ascertain the identity of the father or mother; when the identity is known, but the whereabouts of the person is unknown, despite efforts to locate them; or when the father or mother fails to claim the minor within 30 days after the minor is found

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 446

A report is required when a mandatory reporter learns or comes to suspect that a minor has been or is at risk of becoming a victim of abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444

Responsible persons include the minor's father, mother, or person responsible for the welfare of the minor.

Exceptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.