Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect South Carolina

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Statute: § 20-7-490


Harmed or threatened with harm

Inflicts or allows to be inflicted

Commits or allows to be inflicted


Corporal punishment

Categories of Maltreatment Defined in Statute

Physical abuse


Sexual abuse

Sexual exploitation

Emotional/mental injury


Categories of Maltreatment Not Defined in Statute

Full Text of Statute


S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-490 (WESTLAW through S.C. 2003 Legis. Serv., Act 2)

'Child' means a person under the age of 18.

Abused or neglected child' means a child whose death results from, or whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm, as defined below, by the acts or omissions of the child's parent, guardian, or other person responsible for his welfare.

'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare:

Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions which present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including
injuries sustained as a result of excessive
corporal punishment;

Commits or allows to be committed against the
child a sexual offense as defined by State law or
engages in acts or omissions that present a
substantial risk that a sexual offense would be
committed against the child;

Fails to supply the child with adequate food,
clothing, shelter, education as required by law,
supervision appropriate to the child's age and
development, or health care though financially
able to do so or offered financial or other
reasonable means to do so and the failure to do
so has caused physical or mental injury or
presents a substantial risk of causing physical
or mental injury. For the purpose of this
chapter 'adequate health care' includes any
medical or nonmedical remedial health care
permitted or authorized under State law;

Abandons the child;

Encourages, condones, or approves the commission
of delinquent acts by the child and the
commission of the acts are shown to be the result
of the encouragement, condonation, or approval.;

Has committed abuse or neglect as described above
such that a child who subsequently becomes a part
of the person¿s household is at substantial risk
of one of those forms of abuse or neglect.

'A person responsible for a child's welfare' includes the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, an operator, employee, or caregiver of a public or private residential home, institution, agency, or child day care facility or an adult who has assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child, but who does not necessarily have legal custody of the child. A person whose only role is as a caregiver and whose contact is only incidental with a child, such as a babysitter or a person who has only incidental contact but may not be a caretaker, has not assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian.

Physical injury' means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function.

'Mental injury' means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment of the child¿s ability to function when the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a mental health professional or medical professional.

'Abandonment of a child' means a parent or guardian willfully deserts a child or willfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for the child's needs or the continuing care of the child.


S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-490(32)(a), (2)(c) (WESTLAW through S.C. 2003 Legis. Serv., Act 2)

'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' to a child excludes corporal punishment or physical discipline which:

Is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis;

Is perpetrated for the sole purpose of
restraining or correcting the child;

Is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree;

Has not brought about permanent or lasting damage
to the child;

Is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by
the parents.

A child's absence from school may not be
considered abuse or neglect unless the school has
made efforts to bring about the child's
attendance, and those efforts were unsuccessful
because of the parents' refusal to cooperate.
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