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What Constitutes Child Abuse or Neglect in Virginia?

Posted by attorney Mary Commander

What Constitutes Child Abuse or Neglect in Virginia?

Child Abuse and Neglect are defined by statute in Virginia.

Physical Abuse Virginia Code § 63.2-100 Abused or neglected child means any child younger than age 18:

  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his or her care creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted, upon the child a physical or mental injury by other than accidental means, or creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment of bodily or mental functions
  • Who is with the parent or other responsible person either (1) during the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a schedule I or II controlled substance, or (2) during the unlawful sale of such substance, where such manufacture, or attempted manufacture or unlawful sale would constitute a felony violation
  • Whose parents or other responsible person creates a substantial risk of physical or mental injury by knowingly leaving the child alone in the same dwelling, including an apartment, with a person to whom the child is not related by blood or marriage and who the parent or other responsible person knows has been convicted of an offense against a minor for which registration is required as a violent sexual offender

Neglect Virginia Code § 63.2-100 Abused or neglected child means any child younger than age 18:

  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his or her care neglects or refuses to provide care necessary for his or her health
  • Who is without parental care or guardianship caused by the unreasonable absence or the mental or physical incapacity of the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation Virginia Code § 63.2-100 The term abused or neglected child includes any child younger than age 18 whose parents or other person responsible for his or her care commits or allows to be committed any act of sexual exploitation or any sexual act upon a child in violation of the law. Emotional Abuse Virginia Code § 63.2-100 The term abused or neglected child includes any child younger than age 18 whose parents or other person responsible for his or her care creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon the child a mental injury, or creates a substantial risk of impairment of mental functions. Abandonment Virginia Code § 63.2-100 The term abused or neglected child includes any child younger than age 18 whose parents or other person responsible for his or her care abandons the child. Persons Responsible for the Child Virginia Code § 63.2-100 Responsible persons include the child's parents or another person responsible for the care of the child. Exceptions Virginia Code § 63.2-100 No child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, shall for that reason alone be considered to be an abused or neglected child. Further, a decision by parents who have legal authority for the child, or in the absence of parents with legal authority for the child, any person with legal authority for the child, who refuses a particular medical treatment for a child with a life-threatening condition shall not be deemed a refusal to provide necessary care if:

  • The decision is made jointly by the parents or other person with legal authority and the child.
  • The child has reached age 14 and is sufficiently mature to have an informed opinion on the subject of his or her medical treatment.
  • The parents or other person with legal authority and the child have considered alternative treatment options.
  • The parents, or other person with legal authority, and the child believe in good faith that such decision is in the child's best interests.

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