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Adult Abuse

The infliction of physical pain, injury, or the willful deprivation by a caregiver or other person of services necessary to maintain mental and physical health (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(1) (1975)).

Adult Exploitation

The expenditure, diminution, or use of the property, assets, or resources of a protected person without the express voluntary consent of that person or his or her legally authorized representative; or the admission of or provision of care to a protected person who needs to be in the care of a licensed hospital by an unlicensed hospital after a court order obtained by the State Board of Health has directed closure of the unlicensed hospital (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(8) (1975)).

Adult in Need of Protective Services

A person 18 years of age or older whose behavior indicates that he/she is mentally incapable of adequately caring for himself/herself and his/her interests without serious consequences to himself/herself or others, or who, because of physical or mental impairment, is unable to protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, exploitation, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse by others, and who has no guardian, relative, or other appropriate person able, willing, and available to assume the kind and degree of protection and supervision required under the circumstances (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(2) (1975)).

Adult Neglect

The failure of a caregiver to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical services, and health care for the person unable to care for himself/herself; or the failure of the person to provide these basic needs for himself/herself when the failure is the result of the person's mental or physical inability (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(12) (1975)).



A person under the age of 18 years.

Child Abandonment

May exist when the parent's relinquish their caregiving responsibility, and there is no current caregiver or the current caregiver can no longer provide care.

Child Abuse: Physical

Occurs when serious harm is inflicted non-accidentally on a child by any person age fourteen (14) years or older.

Child Abuse: Sexual: Exploitation

Sexual use of a child for sexual arousal, gratification, advantage, or profit.

Child Abuse: Sexual: Molestation

Sexual conduct with a child when such contact, touching, or interaction over or under the child’s clothes is used for arousal or gratification of sexual needs or desires. 

Child Abuse: Sexual: Penetration

Any intrusion or entrance, however slight, through the use of digits (i.e., fingers or toes); through the use of an inanimate object; or between the sex organ, mouth, or anus of one person and the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person.

Child Neglect: Abandonment

May exist when the parents' relinquish their caregiving responsibility, and there is no current caregiver or the current caregiver can no longer provide care.

Child Neglect: Educational

DHR does not investigate as abuse/neglect reports of a child not attending school. Truancy issues are generally handled by the school district and court having jurisdiction in the child’s county of residence. 

Child Neglect: Inadequate Supervision

Failure to provide supervision that protects children from serious physical harm or sexual abuse.

Child Neglect: Mental Abuse/Neglect

Extreme and aberrant behavior that directly results in severe impairment to a child’s functioning.

Child Neglect: Negligent Treatment

Occurs when parents or primary caregivers negligently fail to protect children from a threat of serious harm. 

Child Protection Team

Under Code of Alabama § 26-16-50 (1975), "The Department of Human Resources shall provide for the development and coordination of the multi-disciplinary child protection teams created by this article and for the services to be provided by such teams throughout the state. Such teams shall be composed of representatives from the local department of human resources, the local law enforcement agencies, the local district attorneys' office, and the local educational agencies. The teams may also include representatives from the local health field, mental health services, local social service agencies, and local members of the legal profession.” 

Children's Advocacy Centers

Agencies that help coordinate investigations of child abuse by providing a child-friendly location for interviews and medical examinations and by coordinating services for children suspected of being abused. They offer assistance to the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the District Attorney’s Office, and law enforcement agencies, by using expertise in the areas of interviewing, counseling, and testimony on behalf of the child.


Emotional Abuse

The willful or reckless infliction of emotional or mental anguish or the use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication, or isolation as punishment or as a substitute for treatment or care of any protected person (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(6) (1975)).


Mandated Reporter

Certain professionals are required by law to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation. For a list of the individuals who are mandated reporters of child abuse/neglect in Alabama, see the "Who Must Report?" section of "Child Abuse Mandated Reporters Training." For a list of the individuals who are mandated reporters of adult abuse/neglect/exploitation in Alabama, see Module 2 of "Adult Abuse Mandated Reporters Training." 


Sexual Abuse

Any conduct that is a crime as defined in Sections 13A-6-60 to 13A-6-70, inclusive (Code of Alabama § 38-9-2(22) (1975)). Forms of sexual abuse include rape, incest, sodomy, and indecent exposure.

Sexually Transmitted Disease

A disease that was originally acquired as a result of sexual penetration or sexual contact with an afflicted individual.

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