Every State maintains the right and the responsibility of creating and enforcing their own child abuse definitions, as well as their own child abuse laws. However, states have developed many variations on this basic definition. States may choose to specify certain activities in their definition of child abuse which other states do not include. The definition of child abuse, as well as child abuse and child neglect laws, may vary a great deal from one State to another.
The State of New Jersey has established a child abuse definition that includes any behavior or activity that causes severe injury, disfigurement, or emotional harm to a child. It has developed child neglect laws that specify abandonment and death as criminal.