child abuse explained

Child Abuse and Child Neglect


Child abuse and neglect can range from leaving a child unattended in a vehicle to severely beating a child. Child abuse and the abuse of a vulnerable adult are treated in much the same way, with both crimes reportable to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).


DCF has determined that a child is a born, unmarried person younger than 18 years old, not emancipated by order of the court. DCF views a vulnerable adult as someone 18 years or older with a disability or a person weak or frail due to old age.


A caretaker can be a parent (even if a minor), legal custodian, adult living in the same house or making regular visits, adult entrusted to the child or has taken responsibility for the child, or another child who is a volunteer or employee of a school, daycare facility, summer camp or similar agency or facility and given the responsibility for caring for a child.

A responsible person caring for a vulnerable adult is considered a caregiver for that person, or a person entrusted to care for the vulnerable adult, or an individual who understands or should understand that the vulnerable adult is not capable of giving consent.


Child abuse is a willful or threatened act. The act must result in sexual, physical or mental injury or harm that causes the child’s health – physical, mental or emotional – to be spoiled.


Child neglect is the depriving of a child of supervision, clothing, food, medical treatment or shelter. It can also mean allowing the child to live in and environment that causes the child’s emotional, mental or physical health to be impaired or if there is danger of impairment from such conditions. If there is financial inability to properly provide for the child, it will not be considered abuse, unless you have been offered services for relief and have denied those services.


Additionally, exploitation of a vulnerable adult is the deceiving of a vulnerable adult or use of intimidation towards that person for personal gain. This includes situations regarding the use of personal funds, assets and/or property of the vulnerable adult for the caretaker’s personal gain.


If you are in need of an attorney with child abuse experience, contact for a free consulation today.


The material on this page represents general legal advice. Since the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained here may be out of date. It is always best to consult a criminal defense attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.