Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - West Virginia

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Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

'Abused child' means a child whose health or welfare is being harmed or threatened by any of the following:

  • A parent, guardian, or custodian who knowingly or intentionally inflicts, attempts to inflict, or knowingly allows another person to inflict, physical injury or mental or emotional injury upon the child or another child in the home, including an injury to the child as a result of excessive corporal punishment
  • Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
  • The sale or attempted sale of a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian in violation of § 61-2-14h
  • Domestic violence, as defined in § 48-27-202
  • Human trafficking or attempted human trafficking in violation of § 61-14-2

'Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child' means an emergency situation in which the welfare or the life of the child is threatened. These conditions may include a situation when there is reasonable cause to believe that any child in the home is or has been sexually abused or sexually exploited or there is reasonable cause to believe that the following conditions threaten the health, life, or safety of any child in the home:

  • Nonaccidental trauma inflicted by a parent, guardian, custodian, sibling, babysitter, or other caregiver
  • A combination of physical and other signs indicating a pattern of abuse that may be medically diagnosed as battered child syndrome
  • Sale or attempted sale of the child by the parent, guardian, or custodian
  • Any other condition that threatens the health, life, or safety of any child in the home

'Serious physical abuse' means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or causes serious or prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

'Neglected child' means a child to whom any of the following apply:

  • Whose physical or mental health is harmed or threatened by a present refusal, failure, or inability of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, supervision, medical care, or education
  • Who is presently without necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision because of the disappearance or absence of the child's parent or custodian

'Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child' means an emergency situation in which the welfare or the life of the child is threatened. Such emergency situation exists when there is reasonable cause to believe that the following conditions threaten the health or life of any child in the home:

  • Nutritional deprivation
  • Inadequate treatment of serious illness or disease
  • The impairment of the parent's parenting skills due to abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substance, as defined § 60A-1-101, to such a degree as to pose an imminent risk to a child's health or safety

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

'Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child' includes an emergency situation in which there is reasonable cause to believe that any child in the home is or has been sexually abused or sexually exploited.

'Sexual abuse' means any of the following:

  • Sexual intercourse, sexual intrusion, sexual contact, or conduct that a parent, guardian, or custodian engages in, attempts to engage in, or knowingly procures another person to engage in with a child, notwithstanding the fact that for a child who is younger than age 16, the child may have willingly participated in that conduct or the child may have suffered no apparent physical, mental, or emotional injury as a result of that conduct or, for a child older than age 16, the child may have consented to that conduct or the child may have suffered no apparent physical injury or mental or emotional injury as a result of that conduct
  • Any conduct where a parent, guardian, or custodian displays their sex organs to a child or procures another person to display their sex organs to a child for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the parent, guardian, or custodian of the person making that display, or of the child, or for the purpose of affronting or alarming the child
  • Any of the offenses proscribed in § 61-8b-7 (sexual abuse in the first degree), § 61-8b-8 (sexual abuse in the second degree), or § 61-8b-9 (sexual abuse in the third degree)

'Sexual exploitation' means an act whereby a parent, guardian, or custodian does any of the following:

  • Whether for financial gain or not, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct
  • Persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a child to display their sex organs for the sexual gratification of the parent, guardian, custodian, or a third person or to display their sex organs when the parent, guardian, or custodian knows such display is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed
  • Knowingly maintains or makes available a child for the purpose of engaging the child in commercial sexual activity in violation of § 61-14-5

Emotional Abuse

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

The terms 'child abuse and neglect' or 'child abuse or neglect' include mental or emotional injury of a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian who is responsible for the child's welfare, under circumstances that harm or threaten the health and welfare of the child.

'Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child' includes substantial emotional injury inflicted by a parent, guardian, or custodian.

Abandonment

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

'Abandonment' means any conduct that demonstrates the settled purpose to forego the duties and parental responsibilities to the child.

'Imminent danger to the physical well-being of the child' includes abandonment by the parent, guardian, or custodian.

Standards for Reporting

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-2-803

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused or observes the child being subjected to conditions that are likely to result in abuse or neglect.

Persons Responsible for the Child

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

Responsible persons include the child's parent, guardian, or custodian.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-201

A child is not considered neglected under the following circumstances:

  • The lack of necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care is due primarily to a lack of financial means on the part of the parent.
  • The child's education is conducted within the provisions of § 18-8-1 (which provides exemption from the State compulsory education requirement for private school enrollment or homeschooling).