Child Sexual Abuse Definition

According to Iowa law, child sexual abuse is “the commission of a sexual offense with or to a child as a result of the acts or omissions of the person responsible for the care of the child. The commission of a sexual offense includes any sexual offense with or to a person under the age of 18 years.”

The person charged must be considered responsible for the care of the child. 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

Who is considered the caregiver of a child can be an issue in these cases:

Educators as caregivers: Normally teachers are not considered caregivers. Every school district will have policies and procedures to follow in the case of reported child abuse. However, there are some instances when an educator may be in the role of a caregiver and outside the jurisdiction of the school. DHS will review reports of alleged child abuse committed by a school employee to determine if a joint assessment with school investigative personal is needed.

Children as caregivers: Sometimes children are sexually abused by other children. The Iowa Department of Human Services may not take action in some of these cases because it does not consider the offending child as a caregiver. A report of suspected sexual abuse should still be made to DHS, which will then determine if any action should be taken. Children may be in a caretaker role, for example, as a baby-sitter. An adult caretaker may be considered responsible if they delegated care responsibilities to an inappropriate minor caregiver.

Excerpts from the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Read more about how Iowa law defines sexual abuse.

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