National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Review of State CPS Policy. Abuse and Neglect Definitions


There was great consistency in the core typology of abuse and neglect. However, additional classes of behavior or the results of such behaviors contributed to the uniqueness of each State's definitions.

Fifty States (98.0%) included definitions of the four major categories of maltreatment--neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. (See table 4-A.)1 These basic categories of child maltreatment are specifically discussed in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).2 Forty-one States (80.4%) included definitions of additional forms of maltreatment such as abandonment, medical neglect, lack of supervision, and risk of harm.

  • Twenty-seven States (52.9%) specifically mentioned medical neglect;
  • Twenty-five States (49.0%) specified abandonment; and
  • Eight States (15.7%) included educational neglect.

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