Across the nation, including in Kansas, it's illegal to abuse your child or any other child. In 2014, Representative Gail Finney from Wichita introduced a bill that attempted to change the spanking law so that parents and teachers could hit children hard enough to leave redness or bruising. The proposed law still banned switches, belts, and anything other than a spank with an open palm. However, the bill didn’t make it out of committee.
Kansas’s main child abuse laws are outlined in the table below.
||Kansas Statutes Chapter 21, Article 56: Crimes Affecting Family Relationships & Children and Chapter 38, Article 22: Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children
|What is Child Abuse and Neglect?
||Kansas law defines child abuse as inflicting mental, physical, or emotional injury that harms the child including negligent treatment, maltreatment, or exploitation to the extent that the child's health or emotional well-being is endangered. Child abuse includes sexual abuse.
Neglect is acts or omissions by a parent or person responsible for the care of a child that results in harm to a child or increases the likelihood of harm, that aren’t solely due to financial inability. Neglect includes, for example, failure to provide the child with food, clothing, or shelter for the life and health of the child or failure to adequately supervise a child.
|Child Abuse Crimes
||Abuse of a Child in Kansas is knowingly doing any of the following to a child under 18 years old:
- Torturing or cruelly beating the child
- Shaking any child that results in great bodily harm to the child
- Inflicting cruel and inhuman corporal punishment upon any child
Endangering a Child is knowingly and unreasonably permitting a child under 18 to be placed in a situation where his or her life, body, or health can be endangered. Aggravated Endangering a Child is recklessly causing the child to be placed in a situation where the child is endangered or permitting the child in an environment where the perpetrator knows meth is being made or distributed or the toxic chemicals for making meth or other drugs are stored.
Also, sexual crimes, like incest or sodomy, and abandoning a child are also crimes that may arise in a child abuse case.
|Penalty for Child Abuse
||Abuse of a Child is a severity level 5 person felony, and in addition, you could be charged with battery or homicide. This type of felony can be punished according to the Kansas Sentencing Grid for non-drug felonies (varies from over 11 years to 2.5 years) and a fine up to $300,000.
Endangering a Child is a class A person misdemeanor that can be punished by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Aggravated Endangering a Child is a level 9 person felony, that’s punished from 5 to 17 months, often on probation, and up to a $100,000 fine. This sentence is served consecutively (back-to-back) with any other sentences.
||Many different groups of people are legally required to report child abuse, including all of the following:
- Doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists, and other health care professionals
- Psychologists, social workers, marriage & family therapists, drug & alcohol counselors, and other mental health providers
- Teachers, school administrators, and other child care employees
- Firefighters, EMTs, cops, corrections officers, case workers, court officers, and court appointed mediators
- Any employee of any organization who provides services to pregnant teens, whether counseling, adoption, or other services
|Basis of Child Abuse or Neglect Report
||If the person reasonably suspects a child has been injured as a result of physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse, they must make a report. Other individuals can choose to report abuse to help save the life of a child, but aren’t legally required to.
|How to Report
||You can report child abuse (and abuse of dependent adults too) using the 24-hour Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330. In an emergency, call the police using 911.
Typically, the Kansas Department for Children and Families investigates the report. However, if the abuse occurred in a Department for Aging and Disability Services or Juvenile Justice facility, then the Attorney General will investigate.
|Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting
||Willful and knowing failure to report, preventing or interference with reporting, or making a false reporting knowing it lacks factual foundation is a Class B misdemeanor that can receive a penalty of at most six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you’ve been accused of child abuse and are facing criminal charges, you should speak to an experienced Kansas criminal defense lawyer. Alternatively, if the state has removed your child from your home allegedly for the child’s safety, you should speak to a family law attorney who regularly works on these types of cases.
Note: State laws are updated regularly, so please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these child abuse laws.
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