Physical abuse is when a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's care hurts a child, causing any physical injury, other than by accident. This includes any physical injury to a child that cannot reasonably be explained by the person responsible for the child's care, based on a history of injuries.
The following are conditions of physical abuse that should be reported:
- Child has suffered an injury that appears to be non-accidental in nature
- Child has suffered an injury and the parent or guardian seems unconcerned, denies anything is wrong, or gives unlikely or contradictory explanations
- There is a strong possibility that the child is in immediate danger of physical injury based on the likelihood that excessive force was used (i.e. choking, punching, shaking, biting, tying, caging)
Harm to a child that results from what a parent or caretaker do not do is called child neglect. It differs from child abuse though both abuse and neglect may cause harm. For a Minnesota State definition of child neglect, see the Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines.
Child neglect is continued failure by parents or caretakers to provide a child with needed care and protection.
Examples of what may constitute a report of child neglect are:
- Inadequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care
- Exposure to threatening or endangering conditions
- Educational neglect
- Prenatal exposure to substance abuse. For more on this topic, see the Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines.
- Inadequate supervision.
- Child has suffered a physical injury as a result of hazardous conditions uncorrected by parent or guardian
- Child suffers injury or risk of injury due to domestic violence
- Exposure to, or involvement in, criminal activities
Sexual abuse within the child protection system is based on Minnesota Statutes 626.556 and is defined as criminal sexual conduct with a child by a person responsible for the child’s care, or by a person who has a significant relationship to the child. A description of sexual abuse can be found in the Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines.
Emotional abuse or maltreatment is consistently or deliberately inflicting mental harm on a child by a person responsible for the child’s care. The treatment has an observable, sustained, adverse effect on the child’s physical, mental or emotional development.