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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online does not include the actions of the 2024 session of the General Assembly. We expect them to be updated by November 1st.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 33 : Human Services

Chapter 049 : Child Welfare Services

Subchapter 002 : Reporting Abuse of Children

(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 4912)
  • § 4912. Definitions

    As used in this subchapter:

    (1) “Abused or neglected child” means a child whose physical health, psychological growth and development, or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of his or her parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. An “abused or neglected child” also means a child who is sexually abused or at substantial risk of sexual abuse by any person and a child who has died as a result of abuse or neglect.

    (2) “Assessment” means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that focuses on the identification of the strengths and support needs of the child and the family and any services they may require to improve or restore their well-being and to reduce the risk of future harm. The child and family assessment does not result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.

    (3) “Child” means an individual under the age of majority.

    (4) “Child Protection Registry” means a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.

    (5) “Emotional maltreatment” means a pattern of malicious behavior that results in impaired psychological growth and development.

    (6) “Harm” can occur by:

    (A) Physical injury or emotional maltreatment.

    (B) Failure to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care. As used in this subchapter, “adequate health care” includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under State law. Notwithstanding that a child might be found to be without proper parental care under chapters 51 and 53 of this title, a parent or other person responsible for a child’s care legitimately practicing his or her religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not be considered neglectful for that reason alone.

    (C) Abandonment of the child.

    (7) “Investigation” means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that begins with the systematic gathering of information to determine whether the abuse or neglect has occurred and, if so, the appropriate response. An investigation shall result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.

    (8) “Member of the clergy” means a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or person performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, nun, brother, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner.

    (9) “Multidisciplinary team” means a group of professionals, paraprofessionals, and other appropriate individuals impaneled by the Commissioner under this chapter for the purpose of assisting in the identification and review of cases of child abuse and neglect, coordinating treatment services for abused and neglected children and their families, and promoting child abuse prevention.

    (10) “Person responsible for a child’s welfare” includes the child’s parent, guardian, foster parent, any other adult residing in the child’s home who serves in a parental role, an employee of a public or private residential home, institution, or agency, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare while in a residential, educational, or child care setting, including any staff person.

    (11) “Physical injury” means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function by other than accidental means.

    (12) “Redacted investigation file” means the intake report, the investigation activities summary, and case determination report that are amended in accordance with confidentiality requirements set forth in section 4913 of this title.

    (13) “Registry record” means an entry in the Child Protection Registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

    (14) “Risk of harm” means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm by other than accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, or sexual abuse, including as the result of:

    (A) a single, egregious act that has caused the child to be at significant risk of serious physical injury;

    (B) the production or preproduction of methamphetamines when a child is actually present;

    (C) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child’s age or development and, as a result, the child is at significant risk of serious physical injury;

    (D) failing to provide supervision or care appropriate for the child’s age or development due to use of illegal substances or misuse of prescription drugs or alcohol;

    (E) failing to supervise appropriately a child in a situation in which drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia are accessible to the child; and

    (F) a registered sex offender or person substantiated for sexually abusing a child residing with or spending unsupervised time with a child.

    (15) “Sexual abuse” consists of any act or acts by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child, including:

    (A) incest;

    (B) prostitution;

    (C) rape;

    (D) sodomy;

    (E) lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child;

    (F) aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation that, in whole or in part, depicts sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child;

    (G) viewing, possessing, or transmitting child pornography, with the exclusion of the exchange of images between mutually consenting minors, including the minor whose image is exchanged;

    (H) human trafficking;

    (I) sexual assault;

    (J) voyeurism;

    (K) luring a child; or

    (L) obscenity.

    (16) “Substantiated report” means that the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee has determined after investigation that a report is based upon accurate and reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the child has been abused or neglected.

    (17) “Serious physical injury” means, by other than accidental means:

    (A) physical injury that creates any of the following:

    (i) a substantial risk of death;

    (ii) a substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ;

    (iii) a substantial impairment of health; or

    (iv) substantial disfigurement; or

    (B) strangulation by intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person. (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1985, No. 211 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 2; 1989, No. 295 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 2; 1991, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1995, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. June 13, 2002; 2003, No. 43, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 66, § 136a; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 18; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 76, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 60, § 3.)