Child Abuse Laws in Indiana

 Juvenile Code:


  • Encourages effective reporting suspected or known incidents of child abuse or neglect
  • Provides each county with an effective child protection services
  • Provides children and families with rehabilitative services
  • Establishes a centralized statewide child abuse registry and an automated child protection system



Child abuse or neglect refers to a child who is alleged to be in need of services (CHINS).

The complete text of the CHINS Law


IC 31-34-1 A child is in need of services if before the child's 18th birthday:


  • The child's physical or mental health condition is seriously impaired or seriouslyendangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect of the child's parent/guardian/ custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision
  • The child's physical or mental health is seriously endangered due to injury by the act or omission of the child's parent/guardian/custodian. An omission is an occurrence in which the parent/guardian/custodian allowed that person's child to receive an injury the parent/guardian/custodian had a reasonable opportunity to prevent or mitigate
  • The child is the victim of a sex offense under the criminal citations incorporated into the CHINS definition
  • The child's parent/guardian/custodian allows the child to participate in an obscene performance
  • The child's parent/guardian/custodian allows the child to commit a sex offense


And needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation that the child is not currently receiving and that is unlikely to be provided or accepted without the coercive intervention of the court.


This definition includes a child with a disability that is deprived of:

  • nutrition necessary to sustain life
  • medical or surgical intervention necessary to remedy or ameliorate a life threatening medical condition if the nutrition or medical or surgical intervention is generally provided to similarly situated children with or without disabilities  


Religious Beliefs/Provision of Medical Treatment:


When a parent/guardian/custodian fails to provide specific medical treatment for a child because of the legitimate and genuine practice of the parent/guardian/custodian's religious beliefs, a refutable presumption arises that the child is not a child in need of services because of such failure. However, this presumption does not prevent a juvenile court from ordering, when the health of the child requires, medical services from a physician licensed to practice medicine in Indiana. The presumption does not apply to situations in which the life or health of a child is in serious danger.


Use of Corporal Punishment:

Nothing in the Juvenile Code limits the right of a person to use reasonable corporal punishment when disciplining a child if the person is the parent/guardian/custodian of the child. In addition, nothing in this chapter limits the lawful practice or teaching of religious beliefs.



Any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect must make a report. In agencies in which there are established reporting protocols, the report may be made to the individual in charge or another designated agent, who also becomes responsible to report or cause a report to be made. This does not relieve individuals who make a report to another staff person of their own obligation to report directly to child protection services or law enforcement unless a report has already been made by the agency liaison. Anonymous reports are accepted. Failure to make a report can be a Class B misdemeanor.


The complete text of the mandatory reporting law. (IC31-33-6-1)

The complete text of the failing to report law.  (IC31-33-22-1) 

The complete text of the false reporting law. (IC31-33-22-3) 


Immunityfrom liability:  

Any person, other than the accused, who reports child abuse or neglect or is involved in the investigation or disposition of child abuse or neglect reports is immune from criminal or civil liability, unless the person acted maliciously or in bad faith.


The complete text of the immunity from liability law. (IC31-33-6-1) 



All reports made to CPS are confidential and will only be released to CPS workers, police, prosecutors, doctors, or other authorized personnel.


The compete text of the confidentiality law. (IC31-33-18-4)


Child Protection Services:  

Each County Office of Family and Children must establish a CPS, which will be the primary agency responsible to receive, investigate or arrange for investigation, and coordinate the investigation of all reports of known or suspected child abuse or neglect. CPS must:

  • Provide protective services to prevent a child's exposure to further incidents of child abuse or neglect. CPS must provide or arrange for, coordinate, and monitor the provision of services to ensure the safety of children. Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent a child's removal from the home
  • Cooperate with and seek and receive cooperation of appropriate public and private agencies and programs providing services related to prevention, identification or treatment of child abuse or neglect


Source:  Indiana Code, Juvenile and Family Law Duwel, P.L. Community Child Protection Teams: A Manual for Team Members. Indiana Chapter Prevention of Child Abuse and Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. (11/97)

Copyright © 2011 Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, A Division of The Villages.  

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