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Ohio Child Abuse Laws

A heavily underreported crime, child abuse refers to the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of minors. It's also a crime to neglect or abandon a child, which is sometimes included within the child abuse statute and other times a standalone statute. Whether there's one statute that covers all types of child abuse, or multiple statutes, most states classify child abuse as a serious crime.

In Ohio there are two separate statutes protecting children from abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Ohio defines a child as a person under the age of eighteen and a mentally or physically handicapped person under the age of twenty one. Ohio's child abuse laws also deem certain people mandatory reporters and require them to report any real or suspected child abuse. Reports of child abuse or neglect can be reported to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, a local public children services agency, or local police.

Ohio Child Abuse Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of Ohio's laws relating to child abuse, neglect, and abandonment.


Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX Section 2919.21 and Section 2919.22

What Conduct is Prohibited?

Under section 2919.21, it's prohibited for a person to abandon or fail to provide adequate support to his or her child.

Under section 2919.22, a parent or guardian is prohibited from creating a substantial risk to the health or safety of his or her child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support*. Conduct that can cause such a risk includes abusing a child, administering physical disciplinary measures, or encouraging or forcing a child to engage in child pornography.

*It's not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support under this division when the parent or guardian treats the physical or mental illness of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body.

Charges and Penalties

The charges for violating these statutes depends on the circumstances, and range from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the second, third, fourth or fifth degree.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Child Abuse Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like to learn more information related to this topic, please click on the links below:

Get Legal Help with Your Child Abuse Case in Ohio

Child abuse, child neglect or child abandonment are serious crimes that could result in severe consequences. If you or someone close to you are facing child abuse charges in Ohio, it may be a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney in Ohio to talk about your rights and options.

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