Child Abuse & Neglect Frequently Asked Question #6
Last Reviewed: June 25, 2015
This is a historical document. Use for research and reference purposes only.
Is this child abuse or neglect?
Legal definitions of child abuse and neglect are included in the reporting laws of each State. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, provides summaries of States’ definitions of child abuse and neglect at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/statutes.... It is important to remember that other parts of State law, as well as case law, may be applied to specific situations. Therefore, this information cannot substitute for advice from a qualified legal professional in your State.
It is important to note that all States have a system to receive and respond to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. If you suspect a child is being harmed, or at risk of being harmed, you should report your concerns to the appropriate authorities in the State where the child resides. Each State has professionals, such as Child Protective Services (CPS), who can evaluate the situation and determine whether intervention and services are needed. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Please refer to the related organizations listing at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?rs_id=5&rate_... for information about where to call to make a report in your State.
Another resource for information about how and where to file a report is the Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline. Childhelp® can be reached 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at its toll-free number, 1.800.4.A-CHILD® (1.800.422.4453).