Abuse Law in Ohio
by the Family Defense Network of Ohio
law is very specific when it comes to parental authority, the child's
obligation to obey the parent, and what constitutes child abuse. Many
police officers, social workers, prosecutors, and even judges, don't
understand these laws until they are explained to them. It is important
for everyone involved in a child abuse investigation to know exactly
what the law says. One of the most important statutes is the law that
defines child abuse in Ohio. The portion that allows a parent to use
physical discipline on their child is located in subsection (C).
[§ 2151.03.1] § 2151.031 Abused child defined.
used in this chapter, an "abused child" includes any child
(A) Is the victim of "sexual activity" as defined under
Chapter 2907. Of the Revised Code, where such activity would constitute
an offense under that chapter, except that the court need not find
that any person has been convicted of the offense in order to find
that the child is an abused child;
(B) Is endangered as defined in section 2919.22 of the Revised Code,
except that the court need not find that any person has been convicted
under that section in order to find that the child is an abused child;
(C) Exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death, inflicted
other than by accidental means, or an injury or death which is at
variance with the history given of it. Except as provided in division
(D) of this section, a child exhibiting evidence of corporal punishment
or other physical disciplinary measure by a parent, guardian,
custodian, person having custody or control, or person in loco parentis
of a child is not an abused child under this division if the
measure is not prohibited under section 2919.22 of the Revised
(D) Because of the acts of his parents, guardian, or custodian, suffers
physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child's
health or welfare.
(E) Is subjected to out-of-home care child abuse.
HISTORY: 1996 H 274, eff 8-8-96
1988 S 89; 1975 H 85
will notice that the law states "a child exhibiting evidence
of corporal punishment or other physical disciplinary measure by a
parent (or ANYONE having ANY TYPE of custody of a child) is not an
abused child under this division if the measure is not prohibited
under section 2919.22 of the Revised Code." Evidence is something
left behind, an indication that corporal punishment has occurred.
Section 2919.22 specifies what is "prohibited."
§ 2919.22 Endangering children
No person, who is the parent, guardian, custodian, person having custody
or control, or person in loco parentis of a child under eighteen years
of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under twenty-one
years of age, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety
of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.
It is not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support under
this division when the parent, guardian, custodian, person having
custody or control of a child treats the physical or mental illness
or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in
accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body.
(B) No person shall do any of the following to a child under
eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child
under twenty-one years of age:
(1) Abuse the child;
(2) Torture or cruelly abuse the child;
(3) Administer corporal punishment or other physical disciplinary
measure, or physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or
for a prolonged period, which punishment, discipline, or restraint
is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk
of serious physical harm to the child.
(4) Repeatedly administer unwarranted disciplinary measures to the
child, when there is a substantial risk that such conduct, if continued,
will seriously impair or retard the child's mental health or development;
(5) Entice, coerce, permit, encourage, compel, hire, employ, use,
or allow a child to act, model, or in any other way participate in,
or be photographed for, the production, presentation, dissemination,
or advertisement of any material or performance that the offender
knows or reasonably should know is obscene, is sexually oriented matter,
or is nudity-oriented matter.
HISTORY: 1997 H 352, eff 1-1-98
1990 S 3, eff 4-11-91; 1985 H 349; 1975 H 85; 1972 H 511
section states that the physical punishment must be "excessive"
AND "create a substantial risk" of "serious physical
harm" to the child. The word "and" is an inclusive
term, and both of these criteria must be met in order for the discipline
to be considered abusive. "Substantial risk" is a much more
dangerous standard than simple risk. Section 2901.01 defines "serious
§ 2901.01 Definitions.
As used in the Revised Code:
(5) "Serious physical harm to persons" means any
of the following:
(a) Any mental illness or condition of such gravity as would normally
require hospitalization or prolonged psychiatric treatment;
(b) Any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death;
(c) Any physical harm that involves some permanent incapacity,
whether partial or total, or that involves some temporary, substantial
(d) Any physical harm that involves some permanent disfigurement,
or that involves some temporary, serious disfigurement;
(e) Any physical harm that involves acute pain of such duration
as to result in substantial suffering, or that involves any degree
of prolonged or intractable pain.
Physical Harm" is the criteria needed to convict someone of "Felonious
Assault." One person slapping another and causing a bruise will
never fit the criteria needed to convict that person of a felony.
The same standard applies to corporal punishment.
law is also very specific regarding parental authority and child responsibility.
Section 2151.021 states that a child must comply with the "reasonable
control" of his parents. This authority also applies to teachers,
foster parents, and temporary custodians.
[§ 2151.02.2] § 2151.022 Unruly child defined
used in this chapter, "unruly child" includes any of the
(A) Any child who does not subject himself or herself to the reasonable
control of his or her parents, teachers, guardian, or custodian, by
reason of being wayward or habitually disobedient;
(B) Any child who is an habitual truant from home or school;
(C) Any child who so deports himself or herself as to injure or endanger
his or her health or morals or the health or morals of others;
law states that a misbehaving child who is NOT disciplined by his
parents is "without proper parental care." In other words,
the state expects parents to properly discipline their children when
[§ 2151.05] § 2151.05 Child without proper parental care.
sections 2151.01 to 2151.54 of the Revised Code, a child whose
home is filthy and unsanitary; whose parents, stepparents, guardian,
or custodian permit him to become dependent, neglected, abused, or
delinquent; whose parents, stepparents, guardian, or custodian, when
able, refuse or neglect to provide him with necessary care, support,
medical attention, and education facilities; or whose parents,
stepparents, guardian, or custodian fail to subject such child to
necessary discipline is without proper parental care or guardianship.