Federal law under CAPTA defines child abuse as “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.” This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” under this definition generally means a person who is younger than age 18 or who is not an emancipated minor. While Federal legislation sets minimum standards for States that accept Federal funding, each State is responsible for defining child maltreatment in State law. (Child Welfare Gateway)
The term ‘abuse’ includes acts or omissions that result in injury to a child’s intellectual, emotional, or psychological development, as evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of the child’s ability to function within the child’s normal range of performance and behavior (Arkansas Definitions). Arkansas defines child abuse and neglect in ten pages, six of which cover neglect (Arkansas Definitions). I am going to shorten that for the purpose of this discussion. Arkansas defines child abuse in physical ways such as engaging in conducts that can result in death, or permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily organ, non-accidental physical injury, throwing, kicking, burning, biting, or cutting a child, striking a child, shaking a child, pinching, biting, and interfering with their breathing or tying a child up to an object (Arkansas Definitions). Giving a child illegal or poisonous substance is child abuse. Subjecting a child to Munchausen syndrome by proxy or a factitious illness by proxy if the incident is confirmed by medical personnel is child abuse (Arkansas Definitions). Also, recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a child for labor or services, through force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery is child abuse (Arkansas Definitions). Reporters are encouraged to look at the child’s history and the history of an incident. Any injury that is inconsistent with the history given should be reported.
Neglect is also considered child abuse and the definition ranges from extreme instances of neglect to minor instances. Neglect is defined in a six-page Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-103 (Arkansas Definitions). Basically, the rule of neglect is failure or refusal to prevent abuse or to provide needs such as food, housing, mental and medical care, and clothing. It can also be not taking reasonable action to protect the child from abandonment, abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, or parental unfitness when the existence of the condition was known or should have been known. Failure to educate a child or causing a child to be born with illegal substances in their system also falls under the definition of neglect.
Sexual abuse should be reported and is defined as sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion by a person age 14 or older to a person younger than age 18 (Arkansas Definitions). Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion, indecent exposure. forcing the watching of pornography or live sexual activity by a person age 18 or older to a person not his or her spouse who is younger than age 15, or by a person age 20 or older to person not his or her spouse age 16 or younger should be reported. (Arkansas Definitions).
Abandonment means failure of a parent to provide reasonable support or the failure of a parent to maintain regular contact with a child. It can be an articulated intent to forego parental responsibility
People responsible for the child include a parent, guardian, custodian, or foster parent, a person age 18 or older living in the home with a child, whether related or unrelated to the child, any person who is entrusted with the child’s care by a parent, guardian, custodian, or foster parent. an employee of a public or private residential home, childcare facility, or public or private school, a significant other of the child’s parent, and any person legally responsible for the child’s welfare (Arkansas Definitions).
Exceptions to reporting child abuse include physical discipline of a child when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child or when a child suffers transient pain or minor temporary marks as the result of an appropriate restraint if the the person exercising the restraint is an employee of a licensed child welfare agency acting in his or her official capacity while on duty (Arkansas Definitions).
Standards for Reporting
Mandatory reporting is required by Arkansas Citation: Ann. Code § 12-18-402 which states that a mandatory reporter immediately notify the child abuse hotline if either of the following applies: (Arkansas Mandatory Reporting)
The reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to child maltreatment, has died as a result of child maltreatment, or died suddenly and unexpectedly.
The reporter observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment.
Although most statutes allow suspected abuse reports to be made anonymously, professionals should give their names when they make reports. In addition, to protect themselves, reporters should always make a note to themselves indicating the date and time they made the oral report and the name of the person who took the report, along with a written summary of what was said when the report was made.
Arkansas defines mandatory reporters as: child care, daycare, or foster care workers, coroners, dentists and dental hygienists, domestic abuse advocates and domestic violence shelter employees or volunteers, employees of the Department of Human Services, employees working under contract for the Division of Youth Services, foster parents, judges, law enforcement officials, peace officers, prosecuting attorneys, licensed nurses, physicians, mental health professionals or paraprofessionals, surgeons, resident interns, osteopaths, and medical personnel who may be engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons, public or private school counselors; school officials, and teachers, social workers and juvenile intake or probation officers, court-appointed special advocates and volunteers, attorneys ad litem, clergy members, which includes ministers, priests, rabbis, accredited Christian Science practitioners, or other similar functionaries of a religious organization, employees of a child advocacy center or a child safety center, sexual abuse advocates or volunteers who work with victims of sexual abuse, child abuse advocates and volunteers, employees of a community-based victim service or a mental health agency, victim/witness coordinators, victim assistance professionals or volunteers, employees of the Crimes Against Children Division of the Department of Arkansas State Police, employees or volunteers at reproductive health-care facilities, an individual not otherwise identified in this subsection who is engaged in performing his or her employment duties with a nonprofit charitable organization other than a nonprofit hospital (Arkansas Mandatory Reporting).
The procedure for mandated reporting can be made by telephone call, facsimile transmission, or online reporting. A mandated reporter who wishes to remain anonymous shall make a report through the toll-free child abuse hotline telephone system. However, if a court determines that the reporter knowingly made a false report their identity will not be concealed (Arkansas mandated Reporting). The Child Abuse Hotline is at 1-800-482-5964 (TDD: 1-800-843-6349). Give as much information about the incident, the victim, and the alleged perpetrator as possible.
Upon conviction, a mandated reporter who fails to report can face jail terms ranging from 30 days to 5 years, fines ranging from $300 to $10,000, or both jail terms and fines. Mandated reporters can also be held liable if they make malicious reports or if they fail to report. (Arkansas Mandated Reporting)
Failure to Report is described in Citation: Ann. Code §§ 12-18-201; 12-18-202; 12-18-206; 12-18-204 (Arkansas Mandated Reporting). A mandated reporter commits the offense of failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the first degree if he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to or has died as a result of child maltreatment or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment, and he or she knowingly fails to notify the child abuse hotline of the child maltreatment or suspected child maltreatment.
Failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor. A mandated reporter commits the offense of failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the second degree if he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to or has died as a result of child maltreatment or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment, and he or she recklessly fails to notify the child abuse hotline of the child maltreatment or suspected child maltreatment. Failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the second degree is a class C misdemeanor.
A mandated reporter who purposely fails to report as required is civilly liable for damages proximately caused by that failure. An employer or supervisor of an employee who is a mandated reporter commits the offense of unlawful restriction of child abuse reporting if he or she: prohibits a mandated reporter from making a report of child maltreatment or suspected child maltreatment, requires that a mandated reporter receive permission or notify a person before the mandated reporter makes a report, knowingly retaliates against a mandated reporter for reporting child maltreatment or suspected child maltreatment. Unlawful restriction of child abuse reporting is a class A misdemeanor. (Arkansas Mandatory Reporting).
Arkansas Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect, Child information gateway, Retrieved From, https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/?CWIGFunctionsaction=statestatutes:main.getResults
Arkansas State Statutes Search Mandatory Reporting, Child information gateway. Retrieved From, https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/?CWIGFunctionsaction=statestatutes:main.getResults
Child Welfare Information Gateway, Retrieved From, https://www.childwelfare.gov/
Immunity for Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/immunity.pdf
Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect, https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/report.pdf