Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect: Identification and Reporting
New York State Mandatory Training

Legal Definitions Related to Child Maltreatment

Who Are the Mandated Reporters?

Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect Have Many Presentations

The Disturbing Statistics

Recognizing Child Abuse

Case Studies: Identifying Abuse

Risk Factors Contributing to Child Abuse and Maltreatment

Protective Factors for Child Abuse and Maltreatment

The Consequences of Child Abuse

Perpetrators of Child Abuse

Talking with Children

Reporting Child Abuse and Maltreatment

Reasonable Cause;When to Report

How to Report

What Happents After a Report is Made

The Abandoned Infant Protection Act




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Child abuse and neglect are defined by both Federal and State laws.

Federal Definitions

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is the Federal legislation that provides minimum standards for the definition of child abuse and neglect that States must incorporate in their statutory definitions (CWIG, 2010).

Under CAPTA, child abuse and neglect means, at a minimum:

Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

The term sexual abuse includes:

The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.

New York State Legal Definitions

While the Federal CAPTA law provides for the minimum standards needed for State laws, it is important to know the specific legal definitions in the States in which you practice, in particular, it is important to know how New York State laws define who is a child, what is considered to be abuse, maltreatment and neglect and who is the subject of the report of abuse. Indeed, the law that mandates certain professionals in New York State to take this coursework that you are now reading, requires that you receive this training regarding the specific laws in New York State.

Review cases 1-7. Would you consider all the children in the theses cases to be defined by NYS as a child? What about 15 year old Tim who lives in a residential treatment facility?

Social Services Law of New York State define the following:

A child is an unemancipated person who is under eighteen years of age.

In New York State a child is also defined as a child residing in a group residential care facility under the jurisdiction of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), Division for Youth (DFY), Office of Mental Health (OMH), Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), or the State Education Department (SED).

A child with a handicapping condition who is 18 years or older (up to age 21) who is defined as an abused child in residential care and who is in residential care in one of the following facilities:

  • New York State School for the Blind (Batavia, NY);
  • New York State School for the Deaf (Rome, NY);
  • A private residential school which has been designed for special education;
  • A special act school district; or
  • A state supported school for the deaf or blind which has a residential component.

Based on the definition above, all of the children involved in cases 1-6 are defined as a "child", even Tim, who is 15 years old and resides in a residential treatment facility under the jurisdiction of the Division for Youth also meets the definition of "child".


Abuse constitutes the most serious harm committed against children. In New York State, the Family Court Act, Section 1012.(e). defines an abused child as one whose parent or other person legally responsible for her/his care:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child, physical injury by other than accidental means;
  • Creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical injury to such a child by other than accidental means which would be likely to cause death, serious or protracted disfigurement or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss of impairment of the function of any bodily organ;
  • Commits or allows to be committed a sex offense against a child;
  • Allows, permits, or encourages a child to engage in any act described in article 263 of the penal Law such as obscene sexual performance, sexual conduct, prostitution);
  • Commits any of the acts described in section 255.5 of the penal law such as incest


In New York State, the term maltreatment is used in Social Services Law and in Family Court Act, the term used is neglect.

Maltreatment/Neglect includes a child's physical, mental or emotional impairment, or imminent danger of impairment by the parent's or legal guardian's failure to exercise a minimum degree of care:

  • In supplying the child with food, clothing, shelter or education, or medical, dental optometrical or surgical care, though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so; or
  • In providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or a substantial risk thereof, including the use of excessive corporal punishment; or
  • By misusing drugs or alcohol to the extent that he or she loses self-control of his/her actions, or
  • By any other acts of similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court; or
  • By abandoning the child.

Additionally, a maltreated/neglected child is one who:

  • Is less than 18 years of age and is defined as a neglected child by the Family Court Act.
  • Has had serious physical injury inflection upon her/him by other than accidental means.
  • Is 18 years of age or older, is neglected and resides in one of the special residential care institutions listed above under the definition of the child.

According to the Family court Act Section 1012, a "person legally responsible" includes the child's custodian, guardian, any other person responsible for the child's care, at the relevant time. A custodian may include any person continually or at regular intervals, found in the same household as the child when the conduct of such person causes or contributes to the abuse or neglect of the child.

Continue on to Recognizing Child Abuse