Arkansas Law

The Law

Below are the Arkansas laws regarding child abuse and abuse of impaired adults.

For free public access to the Arkansas Code, provided by the Bureau of Legislative Research, click the link below:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/arcode/Default.asp

Laws Regarding Child and Adult Maltreatment

There are laws designed to reduce the incidence of child and adult maltreatment and to handle maltreatment allegations when they occur. Staff and all volunteers are expected to abide by all local, state and federal laws. The following information is a summary of some of the pertinent information. When questions arise, the actual statutes should be consulted.

1. Suspected Child Maltreatment

a. Identifying Child Maltreatment

The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act defines “child maltreatment” as “abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation or abandonment.” Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-103(6). The law further defines each category of child maltreatment and it should be consulted whenever maltreatment is suspected. See, Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-103. Examples of child maltreatment include, but are not limited to:

Abuse – extreme or repeated cruelty, conduct that creates a serious risk of death or permanent injury, injury to the child’s detriment, injury at variance with the history given, any non-accidental physical injury including throwing, kicking, burning, biting or cutting a child, striking a child with a closed fist, shaking a child, striking a child on the face or head, interfering with a child’s breathing, pinching, biting or striking a child in the genital area, tying a child to a fixed or heavy object or tying a child’s limbs together, permitting a child to ingest a poisonous or mood altering substance including but not limited to alcohol, illegal drugs, and over the counter or prescription medications in improper amounts, and reporting fictitious illnesses to medical care providers.

Sexual Abuse – attempted, solicited or completed sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity or sexual contact, indecent exposure, voyeurism, forced viewing or participation in pornography or live sexual activity or prostitution. Sexual contact includes any act of sexual gratification involving the touching, directly or through clothing of the sex organs, buttocks or anus of a person or the breast of a female, or the encouraging of child to touch an offender in a sexual manner.

Neglect – failure or refusal to take reasonable action to prevent abuse, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child when the person knows or has reasonable cause to know that the child is or has been abused; refusal to provide necessary, food, clothing, shelter, medical care or education, failure to appropriate supervise a child such that the child is left alone at an inappropriate age or under circumstances putting the child at risk of harm.

Sexual Exploitation – permitting or encouraging a child to participate in prostitution or obscene photography or filming.

Abandonment – the failure of a parent to provide reasonable support.

Additional information and resources may be found at:   www.arkansas.gov/reportARchildabuse

b. Anyone May Report

Any person may immediately notify the Child Abuse Hotline if he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that child maltreatment has occurred, that a child has died as a result of maltreatment, or if he or she observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment. Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-401.

c. Mandated Reporters are Required to Report

Some persons are “mandated reporters” and are required by Arkansas law to immediately notify the Child Abuse Hotline when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to maltreatment, has died as a result of maltreatment, or when he or she observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment. Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-201, 402.

Mandated reporters may face criminal or civil penalties if they fail to report maltreatment or suspected maltreatment. See, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 12-18-201, 202, 206.

Mandated reporters include, but are not limited to, child care workers, day care center workers, clergy and persons reasonably believed to be clergy, and anyone who is performing his or her employment duties with a church. Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-402.

Reporting exceptions are made under Arkansas law where clergy have acquired knowledge of suspected child maltreatment through communications required to be kept confidential pursuant to the religious discipline or the denomination, or where there information received was from the alleged offender in the context of a statement of admission. See, Ark. Code Ann. § 12-18-401(29)(A)(B). The Book of Discipline provides that all clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences, except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law.” See also Judicial Council Decision No. 936.

Employers or supervisors of mandated reporters will not prohibit mandated reporters or volunteers from directly reporting to the Child Abuse Hotline, nor will anyone require an employee or volunteer to obtain permission or notify any person before making a report directly to the hotline.  Ark. Code. Ann. § 12-18-402.

All persons reporting suspected child maltreatment in good faith are immune from liability, but it is a crime to purposely make a report containing false allegations to the Child Abuse Hotline if he or she knows the allegation to be false. See, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 12-18-107(b), 203.

2. Suspected Maltreatment of Endangered and Impaired Adults

a. Identifying Adult Maltreatment

Applicable laws are also designed to protect adults who cannot, due to physical or mental disability, protect themselves. Under Arkansas law, an “impaired person” is a person eighteen (18) years of age or older who has a result of mental or physical impairment is unable to protect himself or herself from abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or exploitation and as a consequence of this inability to protect himself or herself is “endangered.” Ark. Code Ann. § 5 28-101(7)(A) An “endangered” adult includes, but is not limited to, someone who is found to be in a situation or condition that poses an imminent risk of death or serious body harm and who demonstrates a lack of capacity to comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in the situation or condition. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-28-101(4).

“Adult maltreatment” means adult abuse, exploitation, neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse of an endangered or impaired adult. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-28-101; 12-12-1703. The law further defines each category of adult maltreatment and it should be consulted whenever adult maltreatment is suspected. See, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-28-101, 12-12-1703 et. seq. Examples of adult maltreatment include, but are not limited to, acts against impaired or endangered adults such as:

Abuse – purposeful and unnecessary physical acts that inflect pain or cause injury; demeaning acts that would subject a person to ridicule or psychological injury in a manner likely to provoke fear or alarm; threats; unreasonable confinement intimidation; and punishment with resulting physical harm or mental anguish.

Exploitation – illegal or unauthorized use or management of funds or property, misuse of guardianship or power of attorney for profit, misuse of a person’s benefits or resources.

Neglect – failing to provide necessary food, clothing, shelter, supervision or medical care.

Sexual Abuse– deviate sexual activity, sexual contact, or sexual intercourse with another person who is not the actor’s spouse and who is incapable of consent due to mental or physical disability.

Additional information and resources may be found at: www.aradultprotection.com

b. Anyone May Report

Any person may immediately notify the Adult Abuse Hotline if he or she has observed or has reasonable cause to suspect that an endangered person or an impaired person has been subjected to conditions or circumstances that constitute adult maltreatment or long–term care facility resident maltreatment or where he or she has reasonable cause to believe that an adult or long-term care facility resident has died as a result of maltreatment. Ark. Code Ann. §12-12-1708.

c. Mandated Reporters are Required to Report

Certain persons are required by law to report adult and long-term-care facility resident maltreatment. Those persons include but are not limited to clergy or others reasonably believed to be a minister or other similar functionary of a religious organization. See, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-28-110, 12-12-1708(a)(z)-1709. The Book of Discipline provides that all clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences, except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law.” See also Judicial Council Decision No. 936.

All persons reporting suspected adult maltreatment in good faith are immune from liability, but it is a crime to willfully make a false notification to the Adult Abuse Hotline if he or she knows the allegation to be false. See, Ark. Code Ann. § 5-28-110 (b).