Child Abuse in Michigan: What Every Parent Needs To Know (Part 1)

crying child

Child abuse can happen in numerous different ways, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse.


Child abuse is a complex and even controversial topic. In Michigan, the law is relatively specific about what constitutes child abuse, although there are several gray areas that can, and often are, the cause of misunderstandings for many people. In this two part series, we plan to break down some of the misconceptions surrounding child abuse.  We also explain the possible charges for people who have been accused of harming or endangering children.


First it’s important to understand that child abuse takes many forms. It can be categorised as physical, sexual, and emotional or psychological, and explained as follows:



  • Physical Abuse:


Physical Abuse is when a parent, caregiver, or any adult in a position of authority over a child, causes intentional injury or trauma to a child. It is the most visible form of child maltreatment, and also one of the more common varieties. Physical abuse of a child could include biting, kicking, punching, slapping, scalding, burning, shaking or shoving.


Statistics show that in many cases, physical abuse is often unintentional, and result from physical discipline that gets out of hand. While a parent’s right to physically discipline their child is protected by the law in Michigan, parents are cautioned to be aware of how much force they use. Adults are considerably stronger than children and can do a great deal of damage if they are not careful. The general rule of thumb here in our state is that the discipline cannot leave marks on the child’s body.

  • Sexual Abuse:


The legal definition of sexual abuse of a child in Michigan, refers to any act of a sexual nature that involves an underaged minor. It could be the seduction of a child by a trusted relative which becomes a long-standing sexual relationship between them. Or it could be a single violent act performed by a stranger. Either way, both instances would count as child sexual abuse, and both are considered to be criminal acts in the state of Michigan.


Sexual abuse takes many different forms, and as such, there are many different statutes to cover all of the different varieties. However, regardless of how “harmless” the act may have seemed to the adult, or how willing the minor was to participate, any sexual contact between an adult and an underaged minor is strictly illegal in Michigan.


Sexual abuse of a child could include:



  • Emotional Abuse


Emotional abuse, which is also sometimes referred to as psychological maltreatment, is commonly defined as a pattern of behavior that can negatively impact the emotional, psychological or social development of the victim. It can include verbal assaults, like name calling, and also terrorizing, which usually includes frightening a child by threatening them with harm or intentionally placing them in situations that frighten them. It can also include ignoring them for prolonged periods, isolating them from family and peers, rejecting them as individuals, or neglecting their basic emotional needs.


Emotional abuse is not technically illegal, although it is important to note that the legal description of what child abuse could entail, does include references to “mental harm”. This means that if a parent or caregiver treats a child in a way that has a lasting negative impact on them, without ever physically harming them, that person may still be charged with child abuse, depending on the circumstances.


Join us next time, when we will be taking a look at the penalties for the different types of child abuse in Michigan, and what a person could expect to face if they are ever arrested for child abuse. Until then, if you or a loved one are accused of child abuse or any other crime in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. We have decades of experience defending the people of Michigan, and we can help you too!

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