Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parental Neglect...Or Child Abuse?

Two cases of 'parental neglect' this week...or should we up the ante and call it 'child abuse'?
(1) A two-year-old girl found alone outside a South Auckland McDonalds on Saturday. The Maori or Pacific Island toddler was unclaimed for more than 48 hours!!!
(2) A 10-year-old boy found drunk on a Dargaville street on Friday night, with two teenagers and a 22-year-old man!!!
In both cases, the first obvious and loud question is: where the hell were the parents?
In Case (1), I'm sure we'll hear the often-used excuse in that community: "I thought she was with auntie"... sorry but that just doesn't wash. Part of a parent's responsibilities is checking on their child's whereabouts and safety, not surmising that she's safely in someone else's care, regardless of whether their culture lends itself to extended family caregiving. Parents - must - check! 
In Case (2), if the parents knew their 10-year-old boy was out getting drunk, then it's an obvious case of "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!". If they did not know he was out - or in proximity to alcohol - then we're back to Case (1) again...
Definitions from Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect
'parental neglect' - "acts or omissions of a parent (including a step-parent, adoptive parent, or someone who, in practical terms, serves in a parent's role) which endangers the health and life of a child or fails to take steps necessary to the proper raising of a child. The neglect can include leaving a child alone when he or she needs protection, failure to provide food, clothing, medical attention or education to a child, or placing the child in dangerous or harmful circumstances, including exposing the child to a violent, abusive or sexually predatory person".
'child abuse' - "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm".                         
Whatever excuses are forthcoming from both sets of parents (can't wait to hear 'em!), I hope criminal charges are laid, either by the police or Child Youth and Family. Not something that lets them off with a slap of a wet bus ticket, nor should it be "just a warning because of their downtrodden socio-economic situation".
No, it's time those parents, who don't give a damn about their kids, are taught a painful lesson!

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