Child neglect is defined as the failure to adequately feed, shelter, or look after a child in one’s care. Such neglect can be committed by a parent, foster parent, daycare staff member, teacher, or anyone else entrusted with the care of a child under 18. Regardless of the relationship between a child and the adult who neglects the child, the neglect is never excusable.
Although neglect does not receive the media attention that child abuse does, neglect is actually a more common problem than abuse. Approximately 60% of the cases reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) every year involve neglect.
If your child has been a victim of child neglect while under the care of another adult, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries suffered by your child as a result. Contact child neglect attorney Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn about your legal options.
Child neglect comes in many forms, and all of them are potentially very dangerous to children. Child neglect may include any one or more of the following:
- Physical neglect: The child is poorly fed, clothed or sheltered, left alone for long periods of time (2 days or more), or forcibly expelled from the home or care center without other care arrangements having being made.
- Medical neglect: A child’s sickness or injury is deliberately ignored, or needed treatment is deliberately denied.
- Lack of supervision: A child is allowed to behave recklessly, is exposed to dangerous chemicals or products, is left unsupervised for too long (state standards vary), or is knowingly left with an unfit caregiver, such as a known addict or child abuser.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), child neglect often results in a child’s or infant’s failure to thrive and may result not only from failure to provide a child with adequate nutrition but from failure to provide physical contact and affection.
Legal Liability for Child Neglect
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g (amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010) defines child abuse and neglect as—at a minimum—any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker that results in serious physical or emotional harm to a child, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child, or death. Perpetrators of child neglect may often face criminal prosecution and penalties for the neglect of a child. In some cases, they may face civil liability, as well.
Civil Negligence Actions for the Neglect of a Child: Duty of Care
Any person or entity with the duty to care for a child has the duty not to neglect that child. This duty generally arises as a result of a relationship between the adult or entity and the child. Such relationships include the relationship between a child and a babysitter, between a daycare center and its employees and a child, between a school and its teachers and a child, or between a camp or youth organization and its employees (including volunteers) and a child.
Any individual or entity that undertakes to care for a child, such as those described above, has a duty to take reasonable care to protect the child from harm from other adults or children, from defective products, or from other dangers knowable to or reasonably knowable to the individual or entity. This duty always includes the duty not to neglect a child under the individual’s or entity’s care.
Breach of the Duty of Care
Child neglect constitutes a breach of the duty of care owed to a child by someone in whose care the child has been entrusted. This breach of duty may take many forms, including neglect that involves intentional or negligent conduct. The character of the neglect as negligent or intentional may affect the liability of an employer of an individual who has committed child neglect.
Direct Liability of Individuals
Individuals who have the duty to care for a child may be held directly liable for injuries sustained by a child as a result of the individual’s neglect of that child. An individual may be found directly liable for such injuries when the neglect involves either intentional or negligent conduct.
Such an individual may be a private babysitter, a daycare center employee, a teacher, or a camp or youth organization employee, for example. In some states, however, the employees of public entities, such as public schools, are immune from liability to some extent for the negligent neglect of a child under the public employee’s care.
Direct Liability of Employers
In some cases, an employer of an individual who engages in the neglect of a child may be held directly liable for the injuries sustained by the child as a result in a negligence action against the employer. Such liability may be imposed against an employer if the employer is found to have been negligent in the screening, hiring, training, or retaining of the employee who neglected a child and if the employer’s negligence is determined to have been a cause of the employee’s neglect and the child’s resultant injuries. As is true with respect to public employees, however, public employers may enjoy complete or partial immunity from such suits under the laws of some states.
Indirect or Vicarious Liability of Employers
In some cases, an employer of an individual who engages in child neglect may be found vicariously, or indirectly, liable for the injuries suffered by the child as a result of the employee’s neglect. Such liability generally occurs when the employee’s conduct is committed within the scope of the individual’s employment.
If your child has suffered from neglect while in another’s care, contact nationally-recognized child neglect lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for caring and experienced assistance with your case.