Definitions of Abuse & Neglect
The definitions of abuse and neglect in Massachusetts law that are most likely to be relevant in the context of Wellesley College programs provide as follows:
“Abuse” is defined as the non-accidental commission of any act by a caregiver which causes or creates a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury or sexual abuse of a child; or the victimization of a child through sexual exploitation or human trafficking, regardless if the person responsible is a caregiver.
“Physical injury” is defined as: death, fracture of a bone, subdural hematoma, burns, impairment of any organ, soft tissue swelling, skin bruising and any other such nontrivial injury depending upon such factors as the child’s age, circumstances under which the injury occurred, and the number and location of bruises.
“Emotional injury” is defined as: an impairment to or disorder of the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by an observable and substantial reduction in the child’s ability to function with a normal range of performance and behavior.
“Sexual abuse” is defined as: any non-accidental act by a caregiver upon a child that constitutes a sexual offense under the laws of the Commonwealth or any sexual contact between a caregiver and a child for whom the caregiver is responsible.
“Neglect” is defined as the failure by a caregiver, either deliberately or through negligence or inability, to take those actions necessary to provide a child with minimally adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, emotional stability and growth, or other essential care, including malnutrition or failure to thrive; provided, however, that such inability is not due solely to inadequate economic resources or solely to the existence of a handicapping condition.
“Caregiver” is defined as: A child’s parent, stepparent, guardian, or any household member entrusted with the responsibility for a child’s health or welfare; any other person entrusted with responsibility for a child’s welfare, whether in the child’s home, a relative’s home, a school setting, a child care setting (including babysitting), a foster home, a group care facility, or any other comparable setting. As such “caregiver” includes, but is not limited to: School teachers; babysitters; school bus drivers; and camp counselors. The “caregiver” definition should be construed broadly and inclusively to encompass any person who at the time in question is entrusted with a degree of responsibility for the child. This specifically includes a caregiver who is him/herself a child such as a babysitter under age 18.
More detailed definitions of abuse and neglect may be found here.