Child abuse or neglect occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions which present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment, but excluding corporal punishment or physical discipline which:
    • a) Is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis;
    • b) Is perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child;
    • c) Is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree;
    • d) Has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child; and
    • e) Is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by the parents.
  • Commits or allows to be committed against the child a sexual offense as defined by the laws of this State or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk that a sexual offense as defined in the laws of this State would be committed against the child.
  • Abandons the child
  • Encourages, condones, or approves the commission of delinquent acts by the child and the commission of the acts are shown to be the result of the encouragement, or approval
  • Fails to supply the child with:
    • a) Adequate food, clothing, shelter, or supervision appropriate to the child’s age and development.
    • b) Education as required by law. A child’s absences from school may not be considered abuse or neglect unless the school has made efforts to bring about the child’s attendance, and those efforts were unsuccessful because of the parents’ refusal to cooperate.
    • c) Health care; though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so and the failure to do so has caused or presents a substantial risk of causing physical or mental injury. For the purpose of this chapter "adequate health care" includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under state law.
    • d) Has committed abuse or neglect as described in in previous paragraphs, such that a child who subsequently becomes part of the person’s household is at substantial risk of one of those forms of abuse or neglect.

*** It is important to note that "abuse and neglect" is not limited to physical abuse, but includes all of the following maltreatment:

  1.  Neglect (which includes)
    1.  Physical
    2.  Educational
    3.  Medical
  2. Physical Abuse
  3. Sexual Abuse
  4. Emotional Abuse

Source: Children's Trust of S.C.

Who is required to report child abuse and neglect?

Certain person are required to report suspected abuse and neglect and include, but is not limited to: physicians, dentists, medical examiners, other medical and emergency providers, mental health professionals, clergy, school teachers, counselors, principals, social workers, judges, child care/daycare workers, foster parents, non-attorney volunteer Guardian ad Litems (for full list see S.C. Code Section 63-7-310).

How to Report Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, contact your local (county) Department of Social Services (DSS) office. County office contact information can be found here. 

Reporting Out-of-Home Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected outside of the home (i.e, in a foster home, daycare facility, etc.,) contact the State's Out of Home Abuse and Neglect (OHAN) Office.
Business Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, (803) 898-7669
After Hours Contact: Toll-free 1-800-645-9789


DSS Child Protective Services
Childrens Trust of S.C.: Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

Related Resource Page: Homeless Students

This information was prepared to give you some general information on the law. It is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the law you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, you can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The number is 799-7100 in Richland or Lexington Counties, and 1-800-868-2284 from other parts of the state.