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Know the signs

What is abuse and neglect?

In Alaska, the definitions of child abuse and neglect are aligned with federal legislation that lays the groundwork for our state laws. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, 42 U.S.C. § 5101) provides the federal minimum definition of child abuse and neglect:

‘‘the term ‘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”

While there are multiple state civil and criminal statutes as well as additional federal laws that further define child abuse and neglect from a legal perspective, it is not the reporter’s responsibility to try to interpret state or federal law. This training provides definitions in layman’s terms for abuse and neglect which will serve as a better guide for most mandatory reporters in helping to identify child maltreatment. Most important to remember is that when in doubt it is your duty to report. It is the job of OCS to make the determination of whether abuse has occurred.

There are the four major types of abuse and neglect:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Mental Injury