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Compliance - Mandatory Reporting - Definition and Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Definitions and signs of different types of child abuse and neglect.

How to Report Child Abuse or Neglect

Definitions and Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect 

Who: For purposes of reporting child abuse and neglect, a “child” is a person who is less than 18 years of age. 
What: All suspected abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or the manufacture of methamphetamine) or the neglect of a person under 18 years of age must be reported to the local law enforcement or the county human services department. 

Physical abuse 

Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm. 


  • Afraid to go home
  • Frightened of parents/caretakers
  • Fearful of other adults
  • Extremes in behavior, very aggressive, withdrawn and shy
  • Bruises, welts on face, neck, chest, back, buttocks
  • Injuries in the shape of an object (cord, belt)
  • Fractures that do not fit the story of how an injury occurred
  • Delay in seeking medical help
  • Unexplained burns

Sexual abuse 

Sexual intercourse or sexual touching of a child, recording or displaying a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct, sexual exploitation, exposing of genitalia, forced viewing or listening to sexual activity, or involving a child in sex trafficking. 


  • Poor peer relationships
  • Refusal to participate in physical activity
  • Drastic change in behavior
  • Regressive or childlike behavior that is not age appropriate
  • Overly sexualized behavior
  • Difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination pain
  • Stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain, swelling, itching in genital area

Abuse by manufacturing of methamphetamine 

It is child abuse to manufacture methamphetamine with a child present, in a child’s home or under any other circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that the manufacture would be seen, heard or smelled by a child. 

Emotional abuse 

Emotional damage occurs when a child’s parent, guardian or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable for reasons other than poverty to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to address the symptoms. 
Harm to a child’s psychological or intellectual functioning that is exhibited by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or aggression. Emotional damage may be demonstrated by substantial and observable changes in behavior, emotional response or learning which are incompatible with the child’s age or stage of development. 


  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-denigration
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Severe depression or anxiety


When a parent or a caregiver fails, refuses, or is unable for reasons other than poverty to provide the necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter, which seriously endangers the physical health of the child. 


  • Poor hygiene, odor
  • Inappropriately dressed for the weather
  • Needs medical or dental care
  • Left alone, unsupervised for long periods
  • Failure to thrive, malnutrition
  • Constant hunger, begs for or steals food
  • Extreme willingness to please
  • Frequent absence from school
  • Arrives early and stays late at school or play areas or other people’s homes

Keywords:Physical,Sexual,Emotional,Amphetamine,Abuse,Neglect,Signs,Definitions   Doc ID:96468
Owner:Nathaniel S.Group:Extension Handbook
Created:2019-12-06 12:32 CDTUpdated:2021-12-21 16:55 CDT
Sites:Extension Handbook
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