Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - South Carolina

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' occurs under the following circumstances:

  • The parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare does any of the following:
    • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment
    • Abandons the child
    • Commits or allows to be committed against the child female genital mutilation or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk that the crime of female genital mutilation would be committed against the child
    • Encourages, condones, or approves the commission of delinquent acts by the child and the commission of the acts are shown to be the result of the encouragement, condonation, or approval
    • Has committed abuse or neglect, as previously described, such that a child who subsequently becomes part of the person's household is at substantial risk of one of those forms of abuse or neglect
  • A child is a victim of trafficking in persons, as defined in § 16-3-2010, including sex trafficking, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare.

Identifying a child as a victim of trafficking in persons does not create a presumption that the parent, guardian, or other individual responsible for the child's welfare abused, neglected, or harmed the child.

'Physical injury' means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education as required by law; supervision appropriate to the child's age and development; or health care though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, and the failure to do so has caused or presents a substantial risk of causing physical or mental injury.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare commits or allows to be committed against the child a sexual offense, as defined by the laws of this State, or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk that a sexual offense, as defined in the laws of this State, would be committed against the child.

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Mental injury' means an injury to the intellectual, emotional, or psychological capacity or functioning of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment of the child's ability to function when the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a mental health professional or medical professional.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

'Abandonment of a child' means a parent or guardian willfully deserts a child or willfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for the child's needs or the continuing care of the child.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-310

A report is required when a mandatory reporter in their professional capacity has received information that gives them reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

The term 'person responsible for a child's welfare' includes the following:

  • The child's parent, guardian, or foster parent
  • An operator, employee, or caregiver, as defined by § 63-13-20, of a public or private residential home, institution, agency, or child care facility
  • An adult who has assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child but who does not necessarily have legal custody of the child

A person has not assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian if that person's only role is as a caregiver whose contact is only incidental, such as a babysitter, or the person has only incidental contact but may not be a caregiver.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-20

The term 'child abuse or neglect' excludes corporal punishment or physical discipline that consists of the following:

  • Is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis
  • Is perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child
  • Is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree
  • Has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child
  • Is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by the parents

A child's absences from school may not be considered abuse or neglect unless the school has made efforts to bring about the child's attendance, and those efforts were unsuccessful because of the parents' refusal to cooperate.