NH Law About... Child Abuse and Neglect

Introduction to... Child Abuse and Neglect

Posted February 19, 2014. Revised March 20, 2015; February 7, 2017.

The “Read About …” section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. “Read the Law …” links to selected law on child abuse and neglect and should be used as a starting point for further research. “For More Help…” provides links to legal information programs, libraries, and legal assistance.

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.    

Chapter 6 of Family Law by Charles G. Douglas thoroughly discusses RSA 169-C, New Hampshire’s Child Protection Act.  This provides a good starting point for anyone needing a discussion of New Hampshire law on this topic.

The protocols listed below provide good detailed information about New Hampshire child protection generally and then more specifically about educators recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse. 

RSA 169-C

New Hampshire’s Child Protection Act is found at RSA 169-C.  The statute defines the “abandoned”, “abused”, and “neglected” child in RSA 169-C:3 and then sets out, through mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect, to provide protection for those children and a framework to protect all parties involved.  The statute details the procedure to be followed in identifying abuse or neglect and in determining how to assist parents to correct problems to avoid removal of children from the family, take action to prevent abuse or neglect of children, and provide treatment and rehabilitation to children in alternative care. The statute also sets out a mandatory reporting law and establishes a prevention program called the New Hampshire Children’s Trust Fund.

Read about... Child Abuse and Neglect


New Hampshire. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Child Protection Services

Link verified on: May 18, 2017

NH Law requires any person who suspects that a child under age 18 has been abused or neglected must report that suspicion immediately to DCYF.   GO>

New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Attorney General's Task Force on Child Abuse

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

"The Attorney General's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect was created in 1989, to improve the system wide response to child maltreatment in New Hampshire. The Task Force is comprised of professionals from throughout the state, representing the many disciplines involved in the field of child maltreatment, including medical, mental health, judicial, prosecution, defense, law enforcement, victim advocacy, forensic science, and child protection communities."   GO>

Circuit Court Family Division - Abuse or Neglect of Children

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

The Family Division handles cases filed by the state involving abused or neglected children. The purpose of this process is to protect children, keep families together when possible, provide assistance to parents so they can raise healthy and safe children, and to provide treatment and services to children who are placed outside their home.   GO>


Family law / by Charles G. Douglas. New Providence, N.J. : LexisNexis, 2014. 4th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: May 17, 2018

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Read the law about... Child Abuse and Neglect


RSA 126-A:5 XII(a). Commissioner of Health and Human Services  GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

RSA 132-A. Temporary Care and Control of Children at a Hospital or Safe Haven   GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

RSA 169-C. Child Protection Act  GO>

Link verified on: March 16, 2018

RSA 625:9. Classification of Crimes  GO>

Link verified on: April 6, 2018

RSA 632-A. Sexual Assault and Related Offenses   GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

RSA 639. Offenses Against the Family   GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

RSA 639-A. Methamphetamine-Related Crimes  GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


121 N.H. 547 (1981). In re Heather D.

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

"Unlike a statute the violation of which would require the imposition of criminal sanctions, RSA ch. 169-C (Supp. 1979) ("Child Protection Act"), the statute under which this petition arose, is designed to protect children, not punish parents."   GO>

141 N.H. 158 (1996). In re Angel N.

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

"Although the law should not attempt to micromanage families, society does have a right to insist that children not be neglected. When neglect is due to a parent's unwillingness or reluctance to assume basic responsibilities, then society has a right to interfere to protect the innocent child. In an effort to save and nurture the unique bond between parent and child, the State, in the first instance, should take reasonable and appropriate steps whenever possible to assist in maintaining the legal link between parent and offspring."   GO>

153 N.H. 200 (2006). In the Matter of Jeffrey G. and Janette P.

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

"The right of biological and adoptive parents to raise and care for their children is a fundamental liberty interest protected by Part I, Article 2 of the New Hampshire Constitution. In the Matter of Nelson & Horsley, 149 N.H. 545, 547 (2003). Similarly, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children. Troxel, 530 U.S. at 66. This fundamental right is not absolute, but is subordinate to the State's competing parens patriae power to intervene if a child's welfare is at stake. Preston v. Mercieri, 133 N.H. 36, 40 (1990)."   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>


He-C 6430. Central Registry  GO>

Link verified on: May 18, 2017


25 U.S.C. 1901. Indian Child Welfare  GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017

42 U.S.C. 5101 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform  GO>

Link verified on: February 7, 2017


New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>

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