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Law prohibits any person who has charge or custody of a child or who is parent or guardian of a child or any person who is responsible for the welfare of the child from placing the child at unreasonable risk of harm or doing or causing any bodily harm to the child which endangers the life or health of the child or willfully abandoning the child. All the above are considered to be unlawful conduct towards the child. Each state has specific laws as to what constitutes unlawful conduct towards a child.
Example of a state statute ( South Carolina) on unlawful conduct towards a child
In South Carolina, unlawful conduct towards child amounts to a felony. The law as it appears in the statute
S.C. Code Ann. § 63-5-70. Unlawful conduct towards child.
(A) It is unlawful for a person who has charge or custody of a child, or who is the parent or guardian of a child, or who is responsible for the welfare of a child as defined in Section 63-7-20 to:
(1) place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical or mental health, or safety;
(2) do or cause to be done unlawfully or maliciously any bodily harm to the child so that the life or health of the child is endangered or likely to be endangered; or
(3) wilfully abandon the child.
(B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a felony and for each offense, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.