Abuse Defined

Physical Abuse
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)
Child Neglect
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 pp. 12-18 of 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
  • Abandonment
  • Exposure to threatening or endangering conditions
  • Educational neglect
  • Prenatal exposure to substance abuse. For more on this topic, see pp 17 and 18 Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines.
  • Inadequate supervision. For more on this topic talk with an Anoka County child protection worker at 763-422-7125 and see pp. 16 and 17 of the Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines.
  • 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
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
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.