Arkansas Child Endangerment Laws

By Wadia Whalen

loving children image by Marzanna Syncerz from

Child endangerment laws were created to protect the mental and physical well being of minors from the individual legally responsible for their care. When the responsible adult engages in risky behavior, or places the child in a dangerous environment, these laws allow for a legal intervention. In Arkansas child endangerment laws range from felonies to misdemeanors, and also provide protection from exposure to illegal drugs in certain environments.

Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the First Degree

Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, a Class D felony, pertains to a parent, guardian or other individual legally responsible for maintaining the care of a minor. If the behavior of the responsible adult creates an environment that poses a risk of serious injury or death to the minor, or the adult deserts a child under ten in that type of environment, he can be found guilty of first degree child endangerment.

Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the Second Degree

When the responsible adult knowingly engages in behavior that causes harm or serious injury to a minor's physical or mental well being, she is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree--a Class A misdemeanor. This harm or injury can be in the form of a lingering disfigurement, sustained damage to a vital organ or body part or a diminished mental or physical capacity.

Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the Third Degree

If the reckless behavior of the responsible adult leads to the harm or injury of a minor's physical and mental welfare, he is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor in the third degree--a Class B misdemeanor. Sustained disfigurement, damage to physical and mental welfare or diminished organ or body-part function are used to assess guilt.

Child Maltreatment Act

The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act seeks to protect minors from exposure to illegal drugs. It targets individuals who attempt to sell or give drugs to minors, sell drugs near an environment such as a school or skate park where minors are known to gather, or manufacture drugs in the presence of minors. In addition to the normal penalties for narcotics possession or distribution, violation of the Child Maltreatment Act can add an additional 10 years to any sentence.