What is Child Abuse?

Every state maintains their own definitions of child abuse and neglect.  In Indiana, those definitions are found in Title 31 of our State’s criminal and civil code and frequently are used to classify a youth as a “child in need of services” due to the abuse or neglect alleged. 

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway as listed on their site Childwelfare.gov, the definitions in summary are as follows:

Child Abuse

Physical abuse is generally defined as “any non-accidental physical injury to the child” and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child.  Several states, including Indiana, also define abuse as acts or circumstances that threaten the child with harm or create a substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare.   Emotional Abuse is also considered a child abuse and broadly contains “any injury to the psychological capacity and emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition” and injury as evidenced by “anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.”

Child Neglect

Neglect is frequently defined as the failure of the parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s safety and well-being are threatened with harm.  Indiana also includes within their laws the responsibility of a parent or guardian to see to and provide for a child’s regular and necessary education. 

Mandated Reporting

Indiana is a mandated reporting state which means by law any person who has a reasonable suspicion or concern a child is being abused, physically, emotionally, or sexually or neglected or maltreated must report to the local authorities or the Department of Child Services. 

*For even more information regarding definitions, laws, etc, please feel free to review this link provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway:  https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/define.pdf