To help protect the children in our communities, the public needs to know how Idaho defines neglect, abuse, and abandonment.

What is considered neglect, abuse, or abandonment?

The Idaho Child Protective Act defines neglect, abuse, and abandonment. These are all different categories of maltreatment of children. 


Neglect is the most common report made to child protection in Idaho. This occurs when children are not getting the care and protection they need. Call when a child: 

  • Is young and left alone
  • Lives in a house where health or safety hazards are present
  • Has nothing to eat and appears hungry and underweight
  • Is without education
Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the second most common report and means harming a child in a way that leaves physical marks or injuries. Call when you see a child with:  

  • Injuries such as bruises, welts, cuts, bite marks, or broken bones with no appropriate explanation
  • Burns or bruises that look like the object with which they may have been inflicted
  • Clothing too warm for the season which may hide injuries to arms or legs
  • A pattern of repeated injuries
  • A disclosure of being hurt by an adult
Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is the use of a child in a sexual way and is often underreported for a variety of reasons. It may be sexual touching, molestation, incest, rape, or taking pictures of a child for obscene or pornographic purposes. Call when a child has told you: 

  • They have been touched in a private place
  • They have to play “games” the child doesn’t like
  • They have to keep something a secret
  • That someone will be hurt if they tell the secret



Abandonment means the failure of the parent to maintain a normal parental relationship with their child including, but not limited to, reasonable support or regular personal contact. Failure to maintain this relationship without just cause for one year shall constitute sufficient evidence of abandonment.