State Code & Definitions

Virginia State Code

Section 63.1-248.2 of the code of Virginia defines an abused or neglected child as any child less than 18 years of age:

  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his care creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon such child a physical or mental injury by other than accidental means, or creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment of bodily or mental functions
  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his care neglects or refuses to provide care necessary for his health. However, no child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination shall for that reason alone be considered to be an abused or neglected child
  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his care abandons such child
  • Whose parents or other person responsible for his care commits or allows to be committed any act of sexual exploitation or any sexual act upon a child in violation of the law
  • Who is without parental care or guardianship caused by the unreasonable absence or the mental or physical incapacity of the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis


  • Physical abuse is defined as any act which, regardless of intent, results in non-accidental physical injury. Inflicted physical injury most often represents severe corporal punishment. Physical abuse can range from minor bruises and lacerations to severe neurological trauma and death.
  • Physical neglect is defined as the failure to provide for a child's physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety. Physical neglect is often chronic in nature and includes inadequate nutrition, clothing, shelter, hygiene, supervision, and medical or dental care.
  • Sexual abuse is defined as acts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors. Sexual abuse encompasses a broad range of behavior and may consist of many acts over a long period of time or a single incident. Sexual abuse is generally perpetrated by someone known by the child and often does not involve violence. Victims include males and females that range in age from less than 1 year old through adolescence. Specifically, sexual abuse includes: incest, rape, intercourse, oral-genital contact, fondling, sexual propositions or enticement, indecent exposure, child pornography, or child prostitution.
  • Mental / emotional maltreatment is defined as a pattern of acts by the caretaker which results in harm to the child's psychological or emotional health or development. The child typically demonstrates dysfunction as a result of the caretaker's behavior. A psychological assessment is recommended in helping determine mental abuse. Emotional maltreatment can include patterns of rejection, intimidation, ignoring, ridiculing, or isolation.