45 Kids and the Law What is abuse? Abuse is a “non-accidental” act by an adult caretaker. What is serious physical harm? Serious physical harm may include: • Death. • Burns, bone fractures, organ damage. • Swelling or bruising, depending on the number and location of injuries, the child’s age and how the injuries occurred. • Drug dependence at birth. • “Failure to thrive” (a medical term used to refer to abnormally slow growth and development in an infant or child). What is serious emotional injury? Serious emotional injury means damaging the child’s psychological or intellec- tual ability. This could be shown by a worsening of the child’s performance or behavior at school, at home, or in the community. This injury must be shown to be the result of abuse or neglect. What is neglect? Neglect is the failure by a caretaker to provide a child with adequate food, shel- ter, clothing, supervision, medical care, education, emotional stability or other essential care. Neglect may occur either through negligence (extreme careless- ness) or inability (not being able to provide). A caretaker can be a family mem- ber, baby sitter, teacher, or other adult entrusted with the care of a child. What happens when a report of suspected abuse or neglect is made? When DCF receives a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, it must im- mediately screen (review) the report to determine if a child is at risk of abuse or neglect by a caretaker and, if so, whether an emergency or non-emergency response is required. DCF will “screen out” a report because: Abused and Neglected Children 5