Should parents be charged with neglect when babyproofing doesn’t work?

Baby and cabinets This past week a young mother in Florida was charged with child neglect when her 3-year old was found wandering outside the house.  The mother was asleep in the house and it was determined that the child had snapped the safety latch, unlocked the deadbolt and unlocked the doorknob "in a matter of seconds."  In this instance there were other signs of child neglect.  There were medications and toxic cleaners within easy reach of the child. 

But it's a great example to parents that baby proofing does not replace the need for constant adult supervision of our children.   Too many times a parent will install baby proofing items and assume that their child is safe.   My company, Peek-a-Boo BabyProofing, conducts in-home safety consultations in which we discuss with parents how to create layers of safety so that if a child manages to get through one baby proofing item, others are in place.  But, as we explain to our clients, these items are merely in place to provide the parents with a few extra moments to get to their child.   

While I would hope that conscientious, responsible parents would not be arrested if their child was hurt due to baby proofing it does lead to the question of what constitutes neglect.  If a child falls out of a window even though a window guard is in place, would a parent be considered neglectful? What if a child was poisoned due to swallowing a cleaner that had been within a locked cabinet?  Has your little one "outsmarted" the baby proofing that you've done?

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4 Comments

Filed under Baby Proofing

4 responses to “Should parents be charged with neglect when babyproofing doesn’t work?

  1. Julie

    Why was the mother sleeping when no one else was there to care for her son? What if there had been a fire or some other catastrophe?
    I think she should be charged with child neglect simply for the fact that her son was unsupervised.

  2. Vanessa

    Maybe the mother was taking a nap while the child napped and he woke before her and got out of his bed without waking her. I don’t think a mother would go to sleep with a 3 year old awake in the home. The child snapped a safety latch and unlocked 2 locks to get outside. That’s quite a bit to do and if they were up high you wouldn’t dream a 3 year old would think up how to get through it. I don’t think she should be charge with neglect if she was infact napping while the child did. If she napped knowing the child was awake, then I certainly think she should go down.

  3. c

    I don’t think the parents should be charged with child neglect in this instance. That is far too big-brother for me. I don’t think the government should be telling us how to parent our children. I certainly don’t think the government is qualified. Parents should only be charged with child neglect if their actions were intended to inflict harm on their child or in an instance where the parents clearly know the situation is dangerous, like leaving a child in a hot car.
    That said, when I was 4 I did the exact same thing as this child. I unlocked the door and went outside and played… at 5 am… naked! I remember it clearly. My mother was so mad at me and she scolded me. I learned my lesson and never did it again. She did her job as a parent in teaching me that what I did was a no-no and that I should not do it again. It would have been a major overstep of the gov to arrest her and charge her with neglect.

  4. c

    I don’t think the parents should be charged with child neglect in this instance. That is far too big-brother for me. I don’t think the government should be telling us how to parent our children. I certainly don’t think the government is qualified. Parents should only be charged with child neglect if their actions were intended to inflict harm on their child or in an instance where the parents clearly know the situation is dangerous, like leaving a child in a hot car.
    That said, when I was 4 I did the exact same thing as this child. I unlocked the door and went outside and played… at 5 am… naked! I remember it clearly. My mother was so mad at me and she scolded me. I learned my lesson and never did it again. She did her job as a parent in teaching me that what I did was a no-no and that I should not do it again. It would have been a major overstep of the gov to arrest her and charge her with neglect.

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