What is Child Abuse?
Florida Statute 827.03 – Abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child
Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver. It may include any act or failure to act by a parent or other caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child and can occur in a child’s home, or in the organizations, schools, or communities the child interacts with.
Neglect of a child
Child neglect is a form of child abuse and is a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs, including the failure to provide adequate health care, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational, and safety needs. Society generally believes there are necessary behaviors a caregiver must provide in order for a child to develop physically, socially, and emotionally. Causes of neglect may result from several parenting problems including mental disorders, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, unplanned pregnancy, single parenting, and poverty.
Child neglect depends on how a child and society perceive the parents’ behavior; it is not how parents believe they are behaving towards their child. Parental failure to provide for a child, when options are available, is different from failure to provide when options are not available. Poverty and lack of resources are often contributing factors and can prevent parents from meeting their children’s needs when they otherwise would. The circumstances and intentionality must be examined before defining behavior as neglectful.
Child neglect is the most frequent form of child abuse, with children born to young mothers at substantial risk for neglect.
Children permanently removed from their parental home because of substantiated child abuse, are also at an increased risk of a first presentation to the emergency department for suicide-related behavior. Neglected children are at risk of developing lifelong social, emotional, and health problems, particularly if neglected before the age of two years.
(1) “Child abuse” means:
(a) Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
(b) An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or
(c) Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child. A person who knowingly or willfully abuses a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) “Aggravated child abuse” occurs when a person:
(a) Commits aggravated battery on a child;
(b) Willfully tortures, maliciously punish, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
(c) Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child. A person who commits aggravated child abuse commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3)(a) “Neglect of a child” means:
1. A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or
2. A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person. Neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child.
(b) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(c) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) For purposes of this section, “maliciously” means wrongfully, intentionally, and without legal justification or excuse. Maliciousness may be established by circumstances from which one could conclude that a reasonable parent would not have engaged in the damaging acts toward the child for any valid reason and that the primary purpose of the acts was to cause the victim unjustifiable pain or injury.
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