*Content warning: discussion of child abuse
What You Need to Know About New York Child Abuse Laws
The government implements child abuse laws to protect minors from abusive parents and/or guardians. Here’s everything you need to know about New York child abuse laws.
New York courts define child abuse as cruelty inflicted on a person under 18. Child abuse includes physical abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, sexual assault, exploitation, and neglect. New York child abuse laws do not restrict a child’s home. New York requires adults with access to children, like teachers and pediatricians, to report any signs of abuse to local authorities.
Signs of Child Abuse
Parents and children can exhibit evidence of child abuse. Among children, common signs of abuse include:
- Withdrawal from friends and other social activities,
- Changes in personal behavior, like aggression, hostility, and hyperactivity,
- Changes in school performance,
- Depression, anxiety, fears, or sudden loss of self-confidence,
- Lack of parental supervision,
- Frequent absences from school,
- Reluctance to return home,
- Attempts at running away,
- Rebellious or defiant behavior,
- Self-harm or suicide attempts.
Abusive parents may exhibit the following behaviors:
- Showing little concern for a child,
- Inability to recognize the child’s emotional or physical distress,
- Blaming the child for problems,
- Berating the child,
- Expecting the child to care for them and expressing jealousy,
- Using extreme physical discipline,
- Demanding an absurd level of physical or academic performance,
- Limiting the child’s contact with others,
- Offering unconvincing explanations for any visible injuries on the child.
In Need of Help
If you or a loved one are experiencing child abuse, call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720. If you or the child are in immediate danger, call 911.
Related: New York Child Support FAQs
Who is Authorized to Report Signs of Child Abuse?
New York law requires the following authority figures to report any signs of child abuse to the police:
- Medical and hospital personnel,
- School officials,
- Social service workers,
- Child care workers,
- Residential care workers and volunteers,
- Law enforcement personnel.
How to Report Child Abuse in New York
Someone should report a child abuse case immediately to the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720.
A child protective specialist will respond to the call and acquire information about the alleged child abuse or maltreatment. Even if the person reporting the incident knows little information about the child and their family, New York child protective specialists advise the caller to report the abuse anyway.
The child protective specialist may ask the following questions:
- What is the child’s name, age, and home address?
- What are the parent(s)’ names and addresses?
- What are the child’s siblings’ names and addresses (and their corresponding parents, if different)?
- What is the nature and extent of the child’s injuries?
- What risk of harm does the child face?
- Has the child or their siblings sustained any suspicious injuries?
- Who is allegedly inflicting injuries or creating the risk of harm to the child?
- What is the child’s current location?
After the New York State Child Abuse Hotline has a report, the Child Protective Service (CPS) must begin a thorough investigation within 24 hours of receiving the report. CPS will take the child into protective custody to prevent further abuse or maltreatment if necessary.
New York law requires a CPS caseworker to petition the New York Family Court to mandate services when necessary for the child’s protection. CPS then has 60 days to determine if the investigation has some or no credible evidence of child abuse. According to New York State Social Services Law, CPS must inform parents and other legal guardians about their rights.