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What is child abuse or neglect?

Child abuse or neglect means the injury, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, or safety is harmed, or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child. An abused child is a child who has been subjected to child abuse or neglect as defined in this section.
(1) Physical abuse means the nonaccidental infliction of physical injury or physical mistreatment on a child. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, such actions as:
(a) Throwing, kicking, burning, or cutting a child;
(b) Striking a child with a closed fist;
(c) Shaking a child under age three;
(d) Interfering with a child's breathing;
(e) Threatening a child with a deadly weapon;
(f) Doing any other act that is likely to cause and which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks or which is injurious to the child's health, welfare or safety.
(2) Physical discipline of a child, including the reasonable use of corporal punishment, is not considered abuse when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent or guardian for the purposes of restraining or correcting the child. The age, size, and condition of the child, and the location of any inflicted injury shall be considered in determining whether the bodily harm is reasonable or moderate. Other factors may include the developmental level of the child and the nature of the child's misconduct. A parent's belief that it is necessary to punish a child does not justify or permit the use of excessive, immoderate or unreasonable force against the child.
(3) Sexual abuse means committing or allowing to be committed any sexual offense against a child as defined in the criminal code. The intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the sexual or other intimate parts of a child or allowing, permitting, compelling, encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing a child to engage in touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the person touching the child, the child, or a third party. A parent or guardian of a child, a person authorized by the parent or guardian to provide childcare for the child, or a person providing medically recognized services for the child, may touch a child in the sexual or other intimate parts for the purposes of providing hygiene, child care, and medical treatment or diagnosis.
(4) Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, such actions as allowing, permitting, compelling, encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing a child to engage in:
(a) Prostitution;
(b) Sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic activity to be photographed, filmed, or electronically reproduced or transmitted; or
(c) Sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic activity as part of a live performance, or for the benefit or sexual gratification of another person.
(5) Negligent treatment or maltreatment means an act or a failure to act, or the cumulative effects of a pattern of conduct, behavior, or inaction, on the part of a child's parent, legal custodian, guardian, or caregiver that shows a serious disregard of the consequences to the child of such magnitude that it creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety. A child does not have to suffer actual damage or physical or emotional harm to be in circumstances which create a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety. Negligent treatment or maltreatment includes, but is not limited, to:
(a) Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, or health care necessary for a child's health, welfare, or safety. Poverty and/or homelessness do not constitute negligent treatment or maltreatment in and of themselves;
(b) Actions, failures to act, or omissions that result in injury to or which create a substantial risk of injury to the physical, emotional, and/or cognitive development of a child; or
(c) The cumulative effects of a pattern of conduct, behavior or inaction by a parent or guardian in providing for the physical, emotional and developmental needs of a child's, or the effects of chronic failure on the part of a parent or guardian to perform basic parental functions, obligations, and duties, when the result is to cause injury or create a substantial risk of injury to the physical, emotional, and/or cognitive development of a child.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050, 74.13.031, chapter 26.44 RCW, and 2005 c 512. WSR 07-14-011, ยง 388-15-009, filed 6/22/07, effective 7/23/07. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.13.031, 74.04.050, and chapter 26.44 RCW. WSR 02-15-098 and 02-17-045, ยง 388-15-009, filed 7/16/02 and 8/14/02, effective 2/10/03.]
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