What Is Child Neglect and Who Gets Accused?
Very few things can disrupt a family structure as dramatically as an accusation of child neglect. State laws are in place to protect children at all costs.
Unfortunately, these laws do not take into account the fact that parents and caretakers are not perfect. They also do not consider that removing a child from his or her home—sometimes permanently—can cause lasting damage to child and parent. If you have been accused of child neglect in the state of Florida, it is vital to enlist the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and your child’s wellbeing.
Child neglect may also carry the penalty of a prison sentence. Not everyone accused of child neglect definitely goes to prison, and hiring a defense attorney can help you to avoid prison time or minimize your sentence. It pays to hire a specialized, experienced lawyer to help you navigate this emotionally charged and potentially confusing area of the law.
What is neglect?
According to the state of Florida, child neglect occurs when a child is deprived of (or allowed to be deprived of) food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment, or if a child is allowed to be in an environment that causes the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or endangered (myflfamilies.com).
Neglect differs from abuse, which is “any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm” (myflfamilies.com). Abuse includes both acts and omissions.
Who gets accused of child neglect?
Neglect is much more difficult to pinpoint than abuse, which means that any parent or caregiver is vulnerable to accusation. In fact, there is little consensus about what it means to provide the minimum requirements of care for a child, what actions and inactions constitute neglect, or even whether or not a caregiver’s motives come into play.
The definition of neglect is also unclear due to a child’s age. Obviously the needs of a toddler are very different from the needs of a seventeen year old.
According to childwelfare.gov, child neglect can be divided into different categories, such as physical neglect, medical neglect, inadequate supervision, environmental neglect, emotional neglect, and educational neglect.
Child neglect can unfortunately lead to fatalities. These fatalities can be the result of chronic, long-term neglect (such as failing to seek attention for a long-term medical issue or malnutrition) or from a one-time incident (such as drowning, suffocation, or heat stroke).
Unfortunately, a misleading accusation of child neglect can result in more harm to the child than the original concerning situation. When a child is removed from a parent’s care and custody, a hearing is necessary before he or she is returned. An experienced attorney can protect your rights, explain any removal actions initiated by child protection agencies, and help you navigate the complicated legal process.