Child Abuse in Iowa

Child abuse is defined through state laws, so there is no federal standard throughout the country. In Iowa, the Legislature defines "child abuse" to include the following harm:

  • Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing or other care necessary for a child's health and well-being
  • Intended physical injury
  • Sexual abuse of a child
  • Presence of an illegal drug in a child's body as a result of actions or neglect
  • Allowing a known sex offender, who is not the child’s biological parent or the caretaker’s spouse, custody or access to a child
  • Manufacturing a dangerous substance in a child's presence
  • Mental injury to a child
  • Providing access to or showing obscene material to a child
  • Sex trafficking (“the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of commercial sexual activity”)

An additional factor in determining child abuse

According to Iowa law, the harm of a child is considered “child abuse” when it’s caused by the actions or neglect of someone who is responsible for the child’s well-being. The following individuals can be charged with child abuse:

  • Parent or guardian
  • Foster parent
  • Health care or residential treatment employee
  • Child care employee
  • A relative or anyone living with a child, who is responsible for his or her supervision

Under Iowa legislation passed in 2016 (SF 2258), anyone can be a perpetrator of sex trafficking – not just those who are responsible for the care of a child. SF 2258 also expands perpetrators of sexual abuse of a child to include “a person who resides in a home with a child.”

Data regarding child abuse in Iowa is available on our Child Abuse Data page.

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Prevent Child Abuse Iowa 2704 Fleur Drive | Des Moines, IA 50321 | P: (515) 244.2200 | F: (515) 280.7835 | Toll Free: (800) 237.1815

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