Child Abuse

Idaho requires mandatory reporting of abuse, abandonment or neglect.
This also includes observing conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse, abandonment or neglect of a child.  Idaho law requires such conditions or circumstances be reported to law enforcement or The Department of Health and Welfare within 24 hours.
Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is non-accidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child.
Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:
  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)
Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse includes sexual activities such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. In Idaho, Sexual touching of a minor under 16 is illegal.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove, and therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of maltreatment are identified.
Abandonment is now defined in many States as a form of neglect. In general, a child is considered to be abandoned when the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown.
Signs of Abuse
  • Overall, any unexplained changes in a child’s body or behavior are red flags that abuse could be occurring.
  • Physical Abuse: Any injury (bruise, burn, fracture, abdominal or head injury) that cannot be explained
  • Sexual Abuse: Fearful behavior (nightmares, depression, unusual fears, attempts to run away), abdominal pain, bedwetting, urinary tract infection, genital pain or bleeding, sexually transmitted disease, extreme sexual behavior that seems inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Emotional Abuse: Sudden change in self-confidence, headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause, abnormal fears, increased nightmares or attempts to run away
  • Neglect: Failure to gain weight (especially in infants), desperately affectionate behavior, voracious appetite, and stealing food
What are the health effects of child abuse?
Outcomes of child abuse can result in both short and long term injury, and even death. In most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer greater emotional than physical damage. A child who has been abused or otherwise severely mistreated may become depressed or develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away, or abuse others. The younger the child is and the closer the child’s relationship to the abuser, the more serious the emotional damage will be. As adults, they may develop marital and sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior. With early intervention and treatment, these outcomes may be avoided.
Child Welfare Information Gateway.