Family Law Child Protection Forms Law and Legal Definition

Child abuse” means harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare that occurs through nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment, by a parent, a legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare, such as a teacher, a teacher's aide, or a member of the clergy.

Child protection laws, which vary by state, require the reporting of child abuse and neglect by certain persons and provide for the protection of children who are abused or neglected. Such laws may authorize limited detainment in protective custody; authorize medical examinations; prescribe the powers and duties of the state department of social services to prevent child abuse and neglect; prescribe certain powers and duties of local law enforcement agencies; to safeguard and enhance the welfare of children and preserve family life; provide for the appointment of legal counsel. Child protection laws also may provide for the waiver of privileged communications; provide civil and criminal immunity for certain persons; apply rules of evidence in certain cases; provide for confidentiality and expungement of records; and prescribe penalties.