Child Abuse and Neglect

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, a federal law, provides a minimum set of acts or behaviors which constitute abuse. Each state is responsible for providing its own definition of child abuse and neglect. Missouri’s provisions relating to child protection are found in Chapter 210 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Chapter 210.110 - Definitions

Missouri law, at 210.110.(1) RSMo., defines “abuse” as:
“. . . any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child’s care, custody, and control, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse.

Missouri law, at 210.110.(12) RSMo., defines “neglect” as:
“. . . failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being.”

A child is any person, regardless of physical or mental condition, under eighteen years of age. Section 210.110.(4).


Children’s Division, Missouri Department of Social Services