Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since October 1, 2019, please see the codification segue page.

NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.

R512. Human Services, Child and Family Services.

Rule R512-80. Definitions of Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency.

As in effect on October 1, 2019

Table of Contents

R512-80-1. Purpose, Interpretation, and Authority.

(1) Purpose. Under Utah law, Child and Family Services is responsible for providing child welfare services and protecting children from abuse, neglect, and dependency. In determining what constitutes abuse, neglect, or dependency, the definitions in Sections 62A-4a-101, et. seq., Sections 78A-6-105, et. seq., the Criminal Code, these Administrative Rules, and court opinions shall apply. These definitions are intended to clarify those definitions or judicial opinions. Conduct that qualifies as abuse, neglect, or dependency under a criminal statute or the Judicial Code or under Child and Family Services' civil statutes (Sections 62A-4a-101, et. seq.), however, shall qualify as abuse, neglect, or dependency even if these definitions inadvertently fail to bring such conduct within the scope of a particular definition. Some criminal statutes recognize defenses to abuse, neglect, or dependency that may not be applicable in Child and Family Services' civil investigations of child abuse, neglect, or dependency.

(2) Interpretation. Child and Family Services' statutes and these definitions shall be interpreted broadly to protect children from abuse, neglect, or dependency. These definitions shall be applied and interpreted according to the following principles:

(a) These definitions supersede earlier definitions.

(b) In cases of ambiguity, the Child and Family Services' definition shall be construed to harmonize with the relevant statutory definitions (as interpreted by the courts) and to further Child and Family Services' statutory responsibility to protect children and act in the best interest of the child.

(3) Authority. This rule is authorized by Section 62A-4a-102.

R512-80-2. Definitions.

(1) "Abandonment" means conduct by either a parent or legal guardian showing a conscious disregard for parental obligations where that disregard leads to the destruction of the parent-child relationship, except in the case of the safe relinquishment of a newborn child pursuant to Section 62A-4a-802. Abandonment also includes conduct specified in Section 78A-6-508.

(2) "Abuse" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105. It includes but is not limited to child endangerment, Domestic Violence Related Child Abuse, emotional abuse, fetal exposure to alcohol or other harmful substances, dealing in material harmful to a child, Pediatric Condition Falsification or medical child abuse (formerly Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy), physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation.

(3) "Child endangerment" means subjecting a child to threatened harm. This also includes conduct outlined in Sections 76-5-112 and 76-5-112.5.

(4) "Chronic abuse" is as defined in Section 62A-4a-101.

(5) "Chronic neglect" is as defined in Section 62A-4a-101.

(6) "Cohabitant" is as defined in Section 78B-7-102. (See Definitions in Administrative Rule R512-205.)

(7) "Custodian" means a person who has legal custody of a child or a person responsible for a child's care as defined in Section 62A-4a-402.

(8) "Dealing in material harmful to a child" means distributing (providing or transferring possession), exhibiting (showing), or allowing immediate access to material harmful to a child or any other conduct constituting an offense under Sections 76-10-1201 through 1206.

(9) "Dependency" is as defined in Section 62A-4a-101. Dependency includes safe relinquishment of a newborn child as provided in Section 62A-4a-802.

(10) "Domestic Violence Related Child Abuse" means domestic violence between cohabitants in the presence of a child. It may be an isolated incident or a pattern of conduct. (See Definitions in Administrative Rule R512-205.)

(11) "Educational neglect" means failure or refusal to make a good faith effort to ensure that a child receives an appropriate education, after receiving notice that the child has been frequently absent from school without good cause or that the parent has failed to cooperate with school authorities in a reasonable manner in accordance with Sections 78A-6-105 and 78A-6-319.

(12) "Emotional abuse" means engaging in conduct or threatening a child with conduct that causes or can reasonably be expected to cause the child emotional harm. This includes but is not limited to:

(a) Demeaning or derogatory remarks that affect or can reasonably be expected to affect a child's development of self and social competence; or

(b) Threatening harm, rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, ignoring, or corrupting.

(13) "Environmental neglect" means an environment that poses an unreasonable risk to the physical health or safety of a child.

(14) "Failure to protect" means failure to take reasonable action to remedy or prevent child abuse or neglect. Failure to protect includes the conduct of a non-abusive parent or guardian who knows the identity of the abuser or the person neglecting the child, but lies, conceals, or fails to report the abuse or neglect or the alleged perpetrator's identity.

(15) "Failure to thrive" means a medically diagnosed condition in which the child fails to develop physically. This condition is typically indicated by inadequate weight gain.

(16) "Fetal exposure to alcohol or other harmful substances" means a condition in which a child has been exposed to or is dependent upon harmful substances as a result of the mother's use of illegal substances or abuse of prescribed medications during pregnancy, or has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

(17) "Harm" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105. (See also the definition of "threatened harm".)

(18) "Material harmful to a child" means any visual, pictorial, audio, or written representation (in whatever form, including performance) that includes pornographic or sexually explicit material, including nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse that:

(a) Taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex of a child, and

(b) Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for a child, and

(c) Taken as a whole does not have serious value for a child. "Serious value" includes only serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for a child.

(19) "Medical neglect" means failure or refusal to provide proper or necessary medical, dental, or mental health care or to comply with the recommendations of a medical, dental, or mental health professional necessary to the child's health, safety, or well-being. Exceptions and limitations are as provided in Section 78A-6-105.

(20) "Molestation" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105.

(21) "Neglect" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105. It includes but is not limited to abandonment, educational neglect, environmental neglect, failure to protect, failure to thrive, medical neglect, non-supervision, physical neglect, and sibling at risk.

(22) "Non-supervision" means the child is subjected to accidental harm or an unreasonable risk of accidental harm due to failure to supervise the child's activities at a level consistent with the child's age and maturity.

(23) "Pediatric Condition Falsification" (formerly Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy) means a cluster of symptoms or signs, circumstantially related, in which the parent or guardian misrepresents information and/or simulates or produces illness in a child, has knowledge about the etiology of the child's illness but denies such knowledge, seeks multiple medical procedures, or acute symptoms and signs of the illness cease when the child is separated from the parent or guardian.

(24) "Perpetrator" means a person substantially responsible for causing child abuse or neglect, or a person responsible for a child's care who permits another to abuse or neglect a child. (See also Section 76-5-109.)

(25) "Physical abuse" means non-accidental physical harm or threatened physical harm of a child that may or may not be visible. It includes unexplained physical harm of an infant, toddler, disabled, or non-verbal child. "Physical harm" includes but is not limited to "physical injury" and "serious physical injury" as defined in Section 76-5-109.

(26) "Physical neglect" means failure to provide for a child's basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, or other care necessary for the child's health, safety, morals, or well-being.

(27) "Serious harm" includes but is not limited to "serious physical injury" as defined in Section 76-5-109.

(28) "Severe abuse" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105. (29) "Severe neglect" is as defined as in 78A-6-105.

(30) "Sexual abuse" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105. Sexual abuse also includes forcing a child under 18 years of age into marriage or cohabitation with an adult in an intimate relationship.

(31) "Sexual exploitation" is as defined in Section 78A-6-105.

(32) "Sibling at risk" means a child who is at risk of being abused or neglected because another child in the same home or with the same caregiver has been or is abused or neglected.

(33) "Threatened harm" means any conduct that subjects a child to unreasonable risk of harm or any condition or situation likely to cause harm to a child. (See definition of "harm".)


child welfare

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

March 15, 2012

Notice of Continuation

October 13, 2016

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law


Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R512, please contact the promulgating agency (Human Services, Child and Family Services). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.