Legal Definitions of Abuse and Neglect

New York State law defines abuse and neglect of vulnerable persons in broad terms, including both actual harm and the risk of harm.

Physical Abuse

Intentional contact (hitting, kicking, shoving, etc.) corporal punishment, injury which cannot be explained and is suspicious due to extent or location, the number of injuries at one time, or the frequency over time

Psychological Abuse

Taunting, name calling, using threatening words or gestures 

Sexual Abuse

Inappropriate touching, indecent exposure, sexual assault, taking or distributing sexually explicit pictures, voyeurism or other sexual exploitation. All sexual contact between a Custodian and a service recipient is sexual abuse, unless the Custodian is also a person receiving services


Failure to provide supervision, or adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care; or access to an educational entitlement 

Deliberate Misuse of Restraint or Seclusion

Use of these interventions with excessive force, as a punishment or for the convenience of staff 

Controlled Substances

Using, administering or providing any controlled substance contrary to law  

Aversive Conditioning

Unpleasant physical stimulus used to modify behavior without person-specific legal authorization   


Interfering with the discovery, reporting or investigation of abuse / neglect, falsifying records or intentionally making false statements